Lavender’s sweet fragrance scents sachets, lotions, and cleaning products. Its oil soothes heartburn, heals insect bites, and reduces acne. And for centuries, lavender has been renowned as an herb used in cooking.
A member of the mint family, culinary lavender provides a slightly sweet flavor to almost any recipe. Fresh flowers and leaves are used, while buds and stems are dried and used alone or with other herbs.
Among the plants at The Lavender Patch near Fort Scott are several varieties owners Betsy and Davin Reichard grow for food preparation.
“Non-culinary lavender is more bitter, and you don’t want that,” Betsy says. “With culinary lavender, a little goes a long way; less is better as it’s pretty strong. Some people like to use it with a citrus flavor; it’s also good with chocolate.”
For her favorite lemon bars recipe, Betsy grinds dried buds into a powder in a blender and mixes it with the sugar when making the crust; she also adds lavender to the batter.
The pulled pork served at the Patch’s Lavender Festival, typically held in June, is seasoned with smoked paprika and their own blend of herbs de Provence, a mixture of lavender and other herbs typically used in French cuisine.
For novices, Betsy suggests an easy way to add lavender flavor: “Instead of vanilla extract, you can use lavender extract in your recipes, like in brownies.”
Besides culinary lavender and herbs de Provence, the couple also sells lavender salt and pepper, tea, syrup, and mixes for lavender scones, shortbreads, cookies, tea cakes, and squares in their store and on their website, which also features recipes.
Recipe: Lavender Lemon Bars