Lavender on the plate

Carla Allen
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When it comes to lavender I immediately think of my cousin Jacklyn. It’s long been a favourite herb of hers and when it’s in bloom she’s one happy lady.

Lavender has many attributes – it’s beautiful to look at, has a heady fragrance and adds a special something to unusual recipes.Carla Allen photo

She tells me it brings her “down to earth” and is “beauty in its most relaxed form.”

“A field of it almost takes your breath away. It’s like looking at the ocean,” she said.

Recently she visited Sledding Hill in Bear River. The business specializes in culinary lavender and chili products.

“They have a wonderful lavender syrup that they make martinis out of it. I’m going to the Taste of Nova Scotia and voting for that this year,” she said.

Using lavender as an edible product isn’t a new idea, but it’s one that’s enjoying a resurrection of sorts.

In today's upscale restaurants, the blooms are making a comeback as enhancements to both the flavour and appearance of food.

Lavender was often used during Tudor and Elizabethan times in the preparation of a wide variety of dishes and was a particular favourite of Queen Elizabeth I. 

The palace gardeners were required to have lavender flowers available at all times, which were used to make conserve of lavender (a mixture of lavender flowers and sugar) and sweet lavender tisane, a drink made with lavender flowers, boiling water and honey.

Today the flowers can often be spotted in salads, where they bring a dash of colour, fragrance and a bittersweet flavour. The blossoms and leaves can be used as a substitute for rosemary in many recipes and crystallized flowers make beautiful and tasty cake decorations.

Lavender used in the kitchen is primarily fresh blossoms or "culinary lavender," although dried blossoms can be substituted (use half the dried amount compared to fresh).

Interested in trying your luck with lavender in the kitchen? Here’s a recipe to get you started! 

To make lavender custard bring 1.5 cups milk and one tablespoon of lavender leaves to a boil. Cover and let stand for 15 to 20 minutes then strain this and set aside. Stir together three tablespoons of sugar, two teaspoons of cornstarch and the strained milk. Away from pan add half a cup of the hot milk mixture to two eggs. Stir then add to remainder of mixture. Cook for another three minutes. This can be served hot or cold.

Organizations: Taste of Nova Scotia

Geographic location: Bear River

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