A classic old world plant, culinary lavender is just one in a genus that is part of the mint family and embraces 39 species of lavender. Lavendula angustifolia, often known as (old) English lavender, is the only species suitable for cooking because it is very low in camphor. Though I love the look of it, many consider this particular shrub less decorative than other members of the genus that are cultivated as garden features.
Bees are said to prefer it and produce rather more aromatic honey from these flowers and I can well believe it after smelling the heady cloud of scent hanging over this field on a warm summer morning. The shot below is from a trip there with my sister Roslyn on what was our first ‘sisters’ time away in decades (fantastic fun); I had also taken my mother there several years earlier (the four of us with my mum and dad, in a motorhome, for a month around Tasmania – eek!!!) and have rather wonderful memories of how much she loved it.
Lavender is not the most fashionable of ingredients but one that is well worth experimenting with as a variation on recipes, particularly afternoon tea items. Then there is the whole aromatherapy thing of cooking with something that gives off perfume just when you touch it – like great quality basil or old-style Greek oregano.
(Updated 2 January 2018)