Grow Your Own

Cultivating Lavender

Cultivating lavender is a pleasurable pursuit as it is a garden plant par excellence, needing little in the way of water or fertilizer to produce beautiful displays of green, silvery, or blue-green foliage with fragrant flowers ranging from sky blue to lemon yellow to dark violet to lavender. (more…)

Eat Good Food

Lavender Lore

Not just for laundry soaps and bath products, lavender is a versatile culinary ingredient with subtle flavor.

Native to the Mediterranean, lavender has been used for thousands of years as a medicinal herb and as a perfume, and to a lesser extent as a culinary ingredient.

Lavender is in the mint family, and is a cousin to many of our culinary herbs, including mint, rosemary, sage, thyme, basil, marjoram, and oregano.

The herb pairs well with citrus, dairy, summer fruits and vegetables, poultry and lamb, and other herbs.

History

  • The ancient Romans, Greeks, and Egyptians used lavender to scent baths as a cure for insomnia and as an ingredient for incense.
  • It is said that Cleopatra’s seduction of both Julius Caesar and Mark Antony succeeded in part because of her lavender perfume. It’s also said that the asp that killed her hid in a lavender plant.
  • During the various Black Death plagues that swept through Europe in the 14th century, people were instructed to carry with them sweet-smelling flowers and herbs to ward off the disease, amongst them lavender.

Tidbits and Terminology

  • English lavender (Lavendula angustifolia) is the most common cultivar used for culinary purposes and essential oils.
  • French lavender (L. dententa) and Spanish lavender (L. stoechus) are grown primarily for ornamental purposes.
  • Herbes de Provence is a blend of a number of different herbs. In the U.S., it usually includes lavender, rosemary, savory, oregano, and thyme, but lavender is usually not included in this blend in Provence. This blend is great with grilled meats and summer veggies.

Cultivation and Harvest

  • Lavender is a low-growing perennial shrub that can grow as high as four feet. It usually has silvery-green leaves and purple or pink flowers, although there are cultivars with yellow and white flowers as well.
  • Lavender is at its peak in the summer months, although some ornamental varieties start blooming in the spring.
  • Insect pests do generally not bother lavender; in fact, lavender oil is used as a natural pesticide due to its anti-insecticidal properties.
  • Learn more about how to cultivate this useful herb in our new Grow Your Own section.

Nutritional Information

Lavender has been used for centuries for various ailments, including anxiety, depression, and sleeplessness.

Buying Guide

  • Dried Lavender: The flowers are used primarily for medicinal and culinary purposes, but occasionally the dried leaves will be present as well.
  • Most commercial lavender growers use a combination of mulch and mechanical weed pulling to control weeds in their lavender fields; however, herbicides may also be used. Check with your local lavender farmer to find out about his or her lavender-growing practices, especially if you plan to cook with lavender.

Storage

Store dried lavender flowers and leaves in an airtight container away from sunlight. Properly stored, dried lavender should keep for at least a year.

Cooking Tips and Recipes

Just in time for summer, check out our recipes for lavender salt and honey lavender simple syrup.

 

 

Eat Good Food

Make Your Own Eggshell Vase

Making your own eggshell vase is to honor the close attention that spring inspires. After all, you’re breaking an egg without crushing its shell, saving the food it contains for later, and then filling its hollow with small and fragile blossoms. This is not summer’s hearty tromp.

(more…)

Cooking, HomeFarm

Edible Flowers

Eating flowers is not so very strange an idea at all. In fact, if you’ve ever eaten cauliflower, broccoli, or artichokes, you’ve already had the pleasure of a floral meal. (more…)

Artisan Producers

Indigo and Other Natural Dyes

The human arc is and always has been towards the creative. As soon as we sort out food and shelter, human society inevitably turns to art. Whether it is the narrative of cave paintings, the painstaking patterns of basketry, or the fine metal work of ancient weapons — humans have always sought to uplift, alter, and adorn even the most mundane everyday items.

(more…)