Lavender is from the mint family and is a herb so it's no wonder that you can make amazing culinary creations with it. I have found the best lavenders to use in cooking are English lavenders. Varieties such as Munstead, Royal Velvet and Hicote work great in dishes. English lavender has a sweeter taste whereas French lavender and intermediate lavenders such as Grosso have a higher concentration in oils making them more bitter to the taste. A rule for lavender in cooking is that a little goes a long way. This is good news because if you purchase a cup or two of culinary lavender you can make multiple recipes. I will share a few basic recipes here I have tried out. There are many, many more recipes, but here are a few to get you started.
Yields: five (1/2 pints)
Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 30 min
** This recipe calls for 4 cups of sugar, but I found it too sweet and reduced the sugar to 3 cups.
3 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup dried lavender flowers
Juice of 1 lemon (approximately 1/4 cup)
1 (1 3/4-ounces) box powdered Pectin or 1 pouch (3-ounces) liquid pectin*
4 cups granulated sugar
* Pectin is a natural substance found in fruit that enables fruit juice to set up and form a gel. Pectin is available at grocery stores, especially during the canning season of spring through late summer.
Large boiling water canning pot with rack
6 to 8-quart non-reactive saucepan
Lids with rings - Rings are metal bands that secure the lids to the jars. The rings may be reused many times, but the lids only once.
Large spoon and ladle
Jelly Bag or cheesecloth-lined sieve
Preparing the equipment: Before you start preparing your Lavender jelly, place canner rack in the bottom of a boiling water canner. Fill the canner half full with clean warm water for a canner load of pint jars. For other sizes and numbers of jars, you will need to adjust the amount of water so it will be 1 to 2 inches over the top of the filled jars. Wash jars, lids, and rings in hot soapy water; rinse with warm water.
Sanitize the jars, lids, and rings. Never plunge room temperature jars into rapid boiling water or they may crack. Place the jars in a large pot. Add 1-inch of water to the bottom, cover securely, and bring to a boil for 10 minutes. Keep the jars, lids, and rings in the hot water until they are ready to by used.
Preparing the lavender jelly: In a large saucepan over high heat, bring water just to a boil. Remove from heat, stir in dried lavender flowers, and let steep for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, strain mixture into a deep kettle or pot, discarding the lavender flowers. Stir in lemon juice and pectin; continue stirring until the pectin is dissolved. Over high heat, bring the mixture to a boil; add sugar. When the jelly solution returns to a hard rolling boil, let it boil for 2 to 4 minutes (see below), stirring occasionally.
2 minutes - soft gel
4 minutes - medium gel
Testing for "jell" thickness - I keep a metal tablespoon sitting in a glass of ice water, then take a half spoonful of the mix and let it cool to room temperature on the spoon. If it thickens up to the consistency I like, then I know the jelly is ready. If not, I mix in a little more pectin (about 1 teaspoon to 1/2 of another package) and bring it to a boil again for 1 minute.
Processing the jelly: Place jars on the elevated canner rack. Lower rack into the canner with the hot water. Add more boiling water, if needed, so the water level is at least 1 inch above the jar tops. Pour the water around the jars and not directly onto them. Cover the canner with a lid. Process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes (start time when the water returns to a boil).
After 10 minutes, remove jars with a jar lifter and place jars upright on a towel or cooling rack to cool completely. Leave at least one inch of space between the jars during cooling. Avoid placing the jars on a cold surface or in a cold draft. Let the jars sit undisturbed while they cool, from 12 to 24 hours. Do not tighten ring bands on the lids or push down on the center of the flat metal lid until the jar is completely cooled.
After jars cool, check seals by pressing middle of lid with your finger (if lid springs back, lid is not sealed and refrigeration is necessary). Put any unsealed jars in the refrigerator and use first.
Label jars and store the sealed jars in a a cool, dry, dark place up to 1 year. Refrigerate any open jars up to 3 weeks.
Makes five 1/2 pints.
Lavender Shortbread Cookies
The recipe I've used is from A Garden for the House by Kevin Lee Jacobs. As pictured I dipped half the cookies in baker's chocolate but you can certainly leave them plain or simply glaze them as instructed below. The recipe calls for "discs" but I made these for a fundraiser so wanted them to have an extra flare by cutting them with cookie cutters into flowers, hearts, and butterflies.
Easy Lavender Shortbread Cookies
Ingredients for about 2 dozen, 2-inch diameter cookies
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room-temperature
4 teaspoons fresh lavender buds, or 2 teaspoons dried
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour, scooped and leveled
1 cup confectioners sugar, blended with just enough water to achieve a spreadable consistency
To start, detach the lavender petals from their stems. Then pour one 1/2 cup of sugar into the bowl of your food processor. Add the lavender petals and give them a 30 second spin. No food processor? Grind the lavender and sugar in a blender. No blender? Put your mortar and pestle to work.
Next, drop 2 sticks of butter (softened to room-temperature) into a standing mixer equipped with a paddle attachment. No standing mixer for you? A large bowl and a stout wooden spoon will come to your rescue. Add the lavender sugar. And mix at low- or medium-low speed for 3-5 minutes, scraping down the bowl with a blue spatula as necessary. We are mixing at a slow speed in order to avoid beating air into the butter. A properly-made shortbread cookie is deliciously-dense. Again at low- or medium-low speed, beat in 2 cups of flour. Beat until the mixture is smooth — about 2 minutes. No lumps of butter should be visible when you pinch off a bit of dough and form it into a ball with your fingers. Dump the dough onto your work surface, roughly shape it into a disk, wrap the disk in plastic, and chill it in the fridge for 30 minutes. Throw some flour on your work surface. Then roll the dough into a circle, approximately one 1/4-inch thick. Cut out 2-inch diameter rounds. Tip: To keep the dough from sticking to your cookie-cutter, dip the gadget in flour before each use. Transfer the cookies to a parchment- or Silpat-lined baking sheet. Before baking, chill them in the fridge for 30 minutes. Bake the biscuits on the middle rack of a preheated 300-degree oven just until their edges begin to color — 25-30 minutes. The shortbread tops should not color at all. Let the cookies cool completely on their baking sheet.
To make the glaze, whisk together 1 cup of confectioners sugar with just enough water to achieve a spreadable consistency. Sprinkle with lavender buds.
Mix all ingredients together and chill. Add more water or raw honey if needed.
Where to buy Culinary Lavender
We have some very high-grade culinary lavender available at our shop on Etsy. It's a beautiful purple-blue color and very sweet and fragrant.
Listing links are below or simply go to our "shop" tab on our website, which links you directly to our Esty shop or copy and paste the below link
There are listings for 1 cup, 3 cups, and even 1 pound of culinary lavender.