By Rachel Levin
Ahhhh, lavender—this delicate flower’s scent conjures up visions of fragrant purple fields and perfumed soaps and lotions that exploit its calming essence. Smells great but who wants to eat something that reminds them of soap or flowers, for that matter?
Fear not: There’s nothing soapy about the subtle lavender flavor in a recent crop of healthy foods and drinks that are capitalizing on its culinary merits. These sweet and savory treats use the flower to impart enticing floral notes and add surprising depth to their flavors. And the fact that lavender may help ease digestive disturbances, according to recent studies done by bioscientists in India, and has antioxidant properties, as explored by scientists in Tunis, is another reason we’re keen on eating and imbibing these lavender-kissed goodies. It’s one of the reasons the Free Verse Farm is inundated with lavender orders.
Nello’s Lavender Pomodoro Pasta Sauce: You’ll be surprised at how well the flower’s buds pair with the vine-ripened tomatoes in this high-quality, minimally processed, no-sugar-added sauce. You won’t detect its scent when you pop open the jar nor directly taste the flowers when you warm the sauce and pair it with your favorite pasta. It plays a more supporting role by softening the acidic bite of the tomatoes and blending with the basil and thyme for a unique herbaceous finish.
Uniekaas Melkbus 39 Lavender Cheese: This creamy gouda cheese is made with raw, hormone-free milk on a farmstead in Holland and specked with dried rosemary, thyme and lavender. The flower gives the cheese a light floral aroma and taste that pairs well with the other herbs—a riff on French herbes de Provence. Enjoy it on healthy crackers with fresh fruit at your summer picnic.
Wei Peace Lavender Grey Dark Chocolate: Eating one of these handcrafted chocolates is like taking your mouth on a meditation retreat. As the organic, 70 percent dark chocolate begins to melt, it releases the lavender essential oil infused within for a burst of Zen on your tongue. The vegan, fair-trade chocolates, sweetened with coconut blossom sugar, also incorporate bergamot essential oil and a blend of Lotus Wei flower remedies, including Arctic lupine, thought to promote peace and tranquility.
Honeydrop Lavender Lemonade and GT’s Lavender Love Kombucha: You can drink your lavender too—the floral taste it lends to beverages is super refreshing, especially in the summer heat. Honeydrop, a Clean Plates favorite, has added lemonade infused with an organic English variety and sweetened with raw honey to their lineup. The organic plant in GT’s kombucha imparts a fun flowery fizz.
Want to try your hand at cooking with it? The dried flowering plant is delicious added to spice rubs for savory roast chicken or lamb or to naturally sweetened baked goods. We especially like the culinary offering from the organic Purple Haze lavender farm in Sequim, Washington, which also makes exceptionally tasty lavender-infused products like herbes de Provence mustard, salad dressing and honey. Try them now while lavender season is in full swing!