My friends know that I love lavender! It’s said that even looking at the beautiful purple flowers can help boost your mood, but is lavender poisonous to eat? Do you need to get a certain kind to cook with? Keep reading for all the details and ideas on how to use it. Just the smell of lavender is a great way to start relaxing.
Spoiler: There are edible lavenders, and they add a floral flavor to tea, desserts, and even some savory dishes. Just make sure you are using culinary lavender for cooking!
What is lavender?
Lavender is a purple flowering edible herb from the Mediterranean. Did you know that it’s a member of the mint family? There are many types of lavender, and they all smell amazing.
It’s used in cooking and teas, as well as for its calming effect. It comes in many varieties, but the most common is English lavender which is used most often in cooking.
Lavender can be used in so many ways! I add drops of lavender essential oil to my diffuser before bed to help me relax, add dried buds in my Earl Grey tea to enjoy the floral overtones with the black tea and bergamot, and I love to use lavender buds in baked goods and even in my iced coffee.
It pairs well with citrus and is great with gin, coffee, or herbal teas. You can grow your own lavender, just make sure that the soil drains well, and then you can dry your own lavender blossoms.
Tip: Add some dry lavender to some vegan sugar to make the best lavender sugar. Use in drinks or baking!
That’s great. But is all lavender safe to eat?
While the scent of lavender is enjoyable, it does not mean that all lavender products are safe to consume. Lavender oil should not be ingested in any form – only used for topical use or in a diffuser, as it can be toxic. However, there are ways to enjoy lavender as a food ingredient.
It’s a good idea to look for the word culinary on the lavender that you use for culinary purposes. That would mean it was grown and processed to be ingested, unlike lavender for body care or fragrance that could have some pesticides or added ingredients that aren’t safe to eat.
You should never eat lavender oil, but it’s safe to cook with small amounts of dried or fresh English Lavender flowers. In fact, a famous herb blend, herbs de Provence, contains dried lavender.
How much lavender should I use in a dish?
You can use dried or fresh flowers can in salads, baked goods, teas, and even ice cream. But know that the flavor of the flower buds is strong, so a small amount of lavender goes a long way.
People who don’t love lavender in food compare it to eating Grandma’s soap, and even if you like the flavor, you can overdo it! I think lavender tastes a little floral but not soapy at all. To my taste buds, it’s similar to the lavender scent.
When using fresh lavender, remove the stems and lavender leaves before adding them to your dish.
Using lavender in cooking
Cooking with lavender is a fun way to add flavor. Whether you use fresh or dried lavender, the herb has a floral flavor that creates unique dishes.
When using fresh lavender in your cooking, pick it as close to cooking time as possible. When using dried, make sure it is stored in an airtight container to have fragrant lavender to use for months to come.
In the drying process for fresh flowers for culinary use, cut the stems off the plant just before the purple buds fully open. Then bundle with a rubber band and hang in a cool, dry place away until completely dried. Or you can remove the buds and use a dehydrator to get a faster result.
Lavender can be used to flavor boost both sweet and savory dishes, but remember that too much can overpower other flavors, so start off with a small amount first, then add more if needed.
Lavender oil should never be ingested. And note that people with allergies to similar flowering plants could have a negative reaction when drinking lavender flower tea. An allergic reaction is never fun, so be sure to ask your guests before they come to enjoy a lavender tasting menu!
Not all lavender is safe to consume. Select culinary-grade varieties that are specifically grown for use in food. Essential oils derived from the lavender plant should also never be ingested, as they are not safe for consumption and can have toxic effects even in small amounts.