Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Lavender Syrup and the Promise of Spring

Lavender Syrup in the Making
Well, we have almost made it through this blizzard-y, windy, snowy, cold winter.  I refuse to invent one more creative use of cabbage or winter squash.  I have no interest in it.  I quit winter foods.  Some of my clients have been hitting the salad and green juice pretty hard and that is inspiring me to get in gear for the best food seasons ahead!   You know it's the beginning of March when you are craving alfalfa sprouts, crisp salads, and tomatoes that don't taste like styrofoam.  Since it is a bit premature to go greenmarketing and there is no good fruit or local leafy greens, I thought I would brainstorm with some dried lavender, still preserved from those far off sunny days that seem like a such a dream.

Lavender is a bushy plant that is most often used in candles, essential oils, teas, and potpourri.  It has a uniquely pungent floral scent that is unmistakable.  Lavender is also an edible plant and is probably most commonly used culinarily as a tea.  Great iced or hot, the strong flavor is best when diluted by black, green, or chamomile tea.  It is known as a stress-relieving and calming herb and good as a bedtime tea.

Using small amounts of lavender in baked goods, shortbread, marinades, salads, and as a vegetable seasoning is becoming more prevalent as lavender and other floral infusions have become trendy ingredients.  Another common use of fragrant culinary flowers is making a simple syrup infused with the flower, creating an aromatic syrup used in desserts and cocktails.

Here is a recipe for lavender syrup that is fantastic in a martini and exquisite over vanilla ice cream and lemon pound cake.  If you decide to try this out or cook with lavender, make sure your dried lavender is not sprayed with pesticides, organic, or approved for culinary purposes.  Some may be sprayed with un-food-safe chemicals, if not. 

Lavender Syrup

1/4 cup dried lavender buds
1 cup turbinado sugar
1/4 t sea salt

Combine ingredients in a saucepan and stir to combine.  Heat on medium-low until sugar is dissolved, stirring occasionally.  Let it cool for a few minutes, maybe 20?  Place a wire strainer over a large liquid measuring cup and strain the syrup into the measuring cup carefully.  Use on all vanilla or lemon desserts, bake with it and use as an extract, make fancy cocktails, or try drizzled on fresh fruit.  Store sealed in the refrigerator for 6-8 weeks.

1 comment:

Dan said...

In Soviet Russia, ingredients combine you!