July 8th, 2011
Lavender has been used in the culinary world for centuries and is enjoying a bit of a renaissance, with today’s creative chefs looking to this member of the mint family to spice up cocktails and savory dishes as well as add delicate elegance to sweeter offerings. You can dress up a summery pitcher of lemonade with lavender simple syrup – one part water, one part sugar and fresh lavender flowers brought to a boil and cooled. Pretty lavender flowers are also fantastic to freeze into ice cubes. Or how about making a super easy lavender sugar – deliciously sprinkled on fresh fruits or as an elegant gift dressed up in a jar. Just toss lavender flowers in sugar, let it dry out, then process in a CuisinArt! Don’t forget – lavender is a favorite for busy bees… plant some in a pot and help out our native pollinators!
If you love lavender as much as I do, be sure to check out The 15th Annual Sequim Lavender Festival, happening Friday, July 15th through Sunday, July 17th. Vendors will be serving up lots of lavender inspired eats such as crab cocktail with lavender spiked salsa, lavender wine, Little O’s Mini Donuts sprinkled with Lavender Sugar, lavender dessert crepes, hand-crafted funnel cakes with lavender infused honey and cream and lavender cotton candy! There will be a street fair as well as lovely walking tours of seven different lavender farms! Sounds sweet to me!
There’s so much you can do with this fragrant flower. Have fun experimenting and I hope you will try out the recipes below for Lavender Lemon Soda from lavender queen Kathy Ghert and my recipe for Succulent Summer Stone Fruits with Lavender Infused Honey Syrup! –Kathy
Photo by Brian Smale, from Discover Cooking with Lavender
Lavender Lemon Soda
This recipe is from Kathy Gehrt’s book, Discover Cooking With Lavender, it’s great to make for a crowd and is excellent with a splash of vodka or gin for those that imbibe.
Makes 4-6 Servings
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp fresh lavender flowers
1 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
25.3 fluid ounces sparkling mineral water
Combine water, sugar and lavender in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over gentle heat. Remove pan from stove and let mixture steep for 5 to 10 minutes. Strain out flowers and chill the syrup until you are ready to use it.
Combine lavender syrup with lemon juice and pour 1/2 cup of this liquid into an ice-filled glass. Fill the glass with sparkling mineral water and stir. Serve immediately.
© Kathy Gehrt, Discover Cooking with Lavender, Florentia Press
Succulent Summer Stone Fruits with Lavender-Infused Honey Syrup
A great way to use up that lavender from the big plant in your yard. This syrup is easy to make and is just the thing to give fresh fruit a special touch, Make extra lavender infused honey syrup to give as pretty gifts. Seal in small bottles and tie a fresh lavender flower to each bottle.
Makes about 6 servings
Lavender-Infused Honey Syrup
1/2 cup high-quality honey, preferably local
1/2 cup water
8 fresh lavender flowers, unsprayed, and rinsed (or use 1 tablespoon dried)
About 4 cups assorted fresh, ripe stone fruits, prepared as follows before measuring:
Peaches, peeled, pitted, and cut into wedge
Large apricots, pitted and cut into wedges
Plums, pitted and cut into wedges
Nectarines, pitted and cut into wedges
Dark or light sweet cherries, pitted
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Fresh lavender flowers for garnish, optional
To make the Lavender-Infused Honey Syrup: In a small, heavy saucepan, combine the honey, water, and lavender flowers. Bring to a low boil over medium heat, being careful that the mixture does not foam up. Simmer slowly for about 10 minutes, or until the mixture is like thin pancake syrup. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature. Strain into a glass jar, cover, and reserve. The syrup will keep, covered, at room temperature for 2 weeks.
To assemble and serve: In a large bowl, toss the fruit first with the lemon juice, then with the Lavender-Infused Honey Syrup. Serve in pretty glasses or fruit dishes, garnished with fresh lavender flowers if desired.
Recipe © Kathy Casey