Most people are probably familiar with lavender mainly as a component of scented sachets for moth control or as a dominant note in a perfume – famous, for example, is the cologne created at the beginning of the 18th century, which smells intensely of lavender. However, the fact that lavender can also be used as a spice in the kitchen is rather little known.
Unusual aroma for those who like to experiment.
Due to its intense, floral scent, one would expect lavender to have a rather sweet taste. The opposite is true: lavender has a slightly bitter aroma similar to rosemary. If you want to experiment with lavender, you can first dare to prepare classic dishes with rosemary instead with lavender. However, lavender does not always taste the same: depending on which variety it is and whether the plant components used are fresh or dried, the taste changes.
Which variety of lavender should you use?
For cooking, the varieties of Lavandula angustifolia, the true lavender, are best suited. Compared to lavender, it is much milder and slightly sweeter in taste. Some people have had bad experiences with lavender, especially when cooking, because it contains a high proportion of saponins and therefore quickly becomes soapy. Nevertheless, the Schopflavendel can also be used as a spice in the kitchen, but you should use it as fresh as possible and as sparingly as possible. Wool lavender, on the other hand, is mainly used in desserts.
Dried or fresh?
Both the leaves and the flowers can be used dried and fresh. However, spice lavender gains in flavor intensity as soon as it is dried – so use dried plant components even more sparingly than fresh. If possible, use only the very young leaves for cooking – the older they are, the more soapy they become. The dried flowers can be used for garnishing, but also for flavoring sugar, salt, vinegar or oil.
The right dosage makes all the difference
Lavender, especially when dried, should be used very sparingly. Its intense aroma tends to quickly dominate the whole dish. Therefore, when trying it out, it is better to approach it slowly and test how it tastes best to you and your family. Lavender is a very unusual spice that should first be tested in all its possibilities.
Tips & Tricks
Lavender essential oil can also be used for cooking. Dilute the lavender oil with, for example, olive oil (a few drops are enough) and add it late – the volatile aroma will otherwise evaporate.