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Lavender 1 - The Artisan Food Trail

It is now July and the air is buzzing with the sound of bees bobbing about on the lavender. The sun is releasing the wonderful soothing scent which makes the garden a lovely place to relax.

Even when the lavender has finally finished flowering it can still be enjoyed until next summer as long as you remember to dry some bunches. Once dried the lavender flowers can be crumbled the into jars. The aroma packed blooms can be used around the home and in the kitchen.

The mediterranean plant has long been utilised for its health and wellbeing qualities. The essential oil is used by aromatherapists to promote relaxation. It is an antiseptic and also has anti-inflammatory properties and was even used to disinfect hospital floors during the First World War. A little of the oil applied to your temples will soothe a headache and we can certainly vouch for its ability to aid sleep and relieve anxiety.

Historically, lavender can be traced as far back as ancient Egypt where it was used for embalming and cosmetics. The ancient Greeks greatly appreciated its scent and the Romans made full use of its healing attributes. In fact it has been used throughout history to the present day from medicines and insect repellent to perfume.

Lavender 2 - The Artisan Food Trail

Cooking with lavender

When we’re out in the garden tending to the fruit bushes, vegetable plants, and herbs, we often ponder how flowers could be used in our cooking. Lavender has a strong flavour and should be used sparingly but lends itself to both sweet and savoury dishes.

A couple of sprigs of the flowers tucked into a jar full of caster sugar gently infuses to give a wonderful ingredient for baking, the subtle fragrance is good in cakes and biscuits.

It is also an unusual but interesting addition to rubs and marinades, perfectly complementing lamb or even chicken.

A few of the dried flower buds can be dropped into milk or cream, gently warmed and left to allow their flavours to permeate to make a base for custard or ice cream.

Lavender 3 – Womersley Foods - The Artisan Food Trail

Womersley Foods use lavender to the greatest of effect in one of their infused vinegars. Their Lime, Black Pepper & Lavender Vinegar goes great with fish

Although there are a few people who don’t like the smell of lavender associating it with elderly aunts’ handbags, we would urge them to try it in cooking as it really is a different story. Just take care not to use too much and it can transform a dish in a subtle yet surprising way.

We made a deliciously fragrant focaccia bread with just a sprinkling of lavender. You can have a go at making it yourself using our recipe.

Photos: © childsdesign, Womersley Foods

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