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Lavender

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Lavender has been long prized for its scent and healing properties.  While most of us know about the beauty and fragrance of lavender, somehow we have forgotten that it is indeed a herb.  One’s imagination is the only limit when using this herb in food preparation.  I’ll be honest, for some reason this ingredient has long intimidated me,  so it was high time to learn how to use it in my recipes.  There are a few tricks to incorporating it into your spice cabinet, so I thought I would share what I have learned so far.

Lavender varies in taste just as it varies in appearance and aroma.

  • English Lavenders are the prefered lavenders to use culinarily as they are milder, sweeter, and do not over-power the dish.
  • Provence lavender, a hybrid known as a lavandin, has a milder flavor and is often used when English Lavender is not available.
  • The pink-flowered lavender known as Melissa, has a sweet, yet floral note, and enhances dishes such as soups, drinks and desserts.

All culinary lavender blends very well with citrus, mint, rosemary, sage, berries, fruit, drinks, however one should use some caution to not use to much. Lavender should be a background flavor, not in the forefront, and when used in proper proportion it enhances foods with a distinctive and mysterious flavor, while adding a lovely color to your dish.  If you add to much it can taste like perfume and there isn’t much you can do to save the recipe.  So the key to using lavender is to experiment; start out with a small amount and add more as you go, working the flavor profile to your liking.  As in all herbs, the dried version is more concentrated in flavor.

Delicate, floral, with lemon and citrus notes are a good way to describe the taste of lavender.  Interestingly enough, it is part of the mint family. Be sure if you pick and dry your own for culinary use the flowers are pesticide free.  You can use the flowers, leaves or stems.  I like to use the delicate buds because the taste of the leaves and stems is stronger and can be bitter.

Chopping or bruising the buds will help release the flavor.  Chopping can be done easily in a food processor, coffee grinder or spice grinder.  If you use a grinder, you may need to add enough volume of flower buds to avoid a purple tornado that just spins and spins, never breaking down.  I did  a couple of tablespoons at a time and stored it in a dark glass jar out of the light.

Drying Lavender Flowers:

When drying lavender, the stems are bunched together with a rubber band or tie that will allow for shrinkage of the stems as they dry . Group about a dozen stems together in each bunch.

Place rubber bands on the stem so it can be attached to hooks for hanging.   The lavender bunches are hung upside down (flowers on the bottom) Lavender needs to be dried in a dark, dust-free place with good ventilation to allow for quick and complete drying.

To retain the flavor and fragrance of  the dried herb, store it in glass containers with tight-fitting lids so the oils will not escape.

Health Benefits of Lavender may include but are not limited to:

  • Lavender oil is a marvelous antiseptic.
  • Wrapped in cushions, dried flowers can help to induce sleep, and ease stress or depression.
  • It can be brewed into a tea and used to relieve headaches, sinus congestion, hangovers, tiredness, exhaustion and tension.
  • Lavender is deeply rooted in aromatherapy.  Its effect is calming, uplifting, refreshing, soothing and purifying.
  • Emotionally, lavender may help in creating a calm composure while reducing the effects of stress and irritability.
  • It can help with insomnia, nightmares, nervous tension, apprehension, hysteria and panic attacks.
  • It is balancing to the body as well as the psyche.

Outside of culinary uses you can use Lavender…(just a few ideas)

In the Bath:

  1. Excellent for aching muscles, relaxation, stress relief.
  2. Add 6-8 drops of lavender oil after running the water and vigorously agitate water.  Adding the drops to a capful of milk or Epsom salts and then putting in the bath helps to disperse the oils through out the water.  Lie back, relax, and enjoy!

In the Shower:

  1. After washing your hair, add a few drops to a capful of water and gently pour onto your head.
  2. Stand there for a few seconds then dip your head under running water and allow oils to rinse off.
  3. Cup your hands over your face and breathe in the relaxing aroma.
  4. You can also add a few drops to your shampoo and cleanse your hair as normal.

Massage:

  1. Use for tight and sore muscles, under stress, or have sustained an injury.  The oils will be absorbed quickly into the blood stream, thus assisting the body and mind.
  2. NEVER massage UNDILUTED oils, always use a good quality carrier.
Eye Pillows:
  1. Make an easy herbal eye pillow for heating or cooling and placing on your eyes by mixing 1/2 cup flax-seed (buckwheat, rice, etc) and 1/2 cup lavender and placing in a simple sewn muslin square.

 

***The above recommendations apply only to Healthy, Average sized Adults.  Dosage for children, elderly, sick or diabled persons should be a fraction of above dosage.  As with any essential oil, ALWAYS try a small amount on a “patch” test to see if skin is reactive before any treatment.


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10 thoughts on “Lavender

  1. Lisa Evers says:

    You are amazing Amie Sue! Thank you for your knowledge, time and love. You ARE the best!

    • amie-sue says:

      Oh thank you Lisa… I am glad that you find it helpful. I love sharing my heart and all that I learn. Have a wonderful day! amie sue

  2. Janette says:

    I use lavender in tea, I make my own blend with lavender, chamomile, catnip, spearmint and a few other items (can’t give away my secret) I also use it as a sachet in my drawers, I put dried lavender flowers in cheese cloth, tie them off and put them in with my cloths as well as my linen closet. I use it in cooking soups and as a spice for cookies. Besides, purple is my favorite color and taste :)

  3. Mandy Pena says:

    Where do you buy the lavender if you can’t grow it yourself?

  4. [...] Lavender The lavender bunches are hung upside down (flowers on the bottom) Lavender needs to be dried in a dark, dust-free place with good ventilation to allow for quick and complete drying. To retain the flavor and fragrance of the dried herb, store it in glass containers with . Good question… in the past I have purchased lavender buds through my local health food store that sells bulk herbs. So that is one place. You can check local nurseries to see if they sell it. (make sure . [...]

  5. Helen says:

    Wow, how interesting article was that! Thank you so much! I have been interested in essential oils for a long time, thus know what a superstar lavender oil is. But I never realized I could also use it as a spice for the food.

    Your whole blog is awesome! Again, thank you for sharing the information on raw foods. I plan to go mostly raw in a week (I’ve done my research on tools, gathered recipes and made a menu plan for the first week, getting ready to start ordering all the stuff…) so I appreciate all the info on the subject that I can get. Tnx :)

    • amie-sue says:

      Your welcome Helen…. I am excited for you as you enter you journey with raw. My best advice is to listen to your body along the way. If you are new to adding a lot of new raw foods to your body, do it gradually. It can be overwhelming for your body to go from one extreme to another. Specially with raw… lots of fibers which can irritate the gut if not careful. :) I hope you find inspiration through my site and never hesitate to ask questions along the way. Blessings, amie sue

  6. claudia says:

    Hi Amie Sue thank you for your advice and wise tips I am borderline diabetes but I love pies and tarts and want to make change to a more raw and gluten free diet I would be grateful for any tips love all the tips you have given so far thank you

    Claudia

    • amie-sue says:

      Good morning Claudia… there are tons of recipes on my site for pies. Have you checked them out? You can tailor the sweeteners used to accomodate your health challenges. Have a great day, amie sue

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