Culinary Lavender at Beechwood Inn – North Georgia

Culinary Lavender at Beechwood Inn – North Georgia

Culinary Lavender at Beechwood Inn – North Georgia

As Chefs at Beechwood Inn, Gayle and I strive to make our plates beautiful and our dining exquisite. We look for things that will make a visit to Beechwood Inn in not just memorable but a magnetic experience. Using unique products is one way we do that. One product we love is culinary lavender.

Culinary Lavernder Blossoms at Beechwood Inn
Culinary Lavender

Lavender is a member of the same family as many of our most popular herbs. At Beechwood Inn we have been using lavender as a flavor component in our cooking for years. So to us it is not surprising that lavender use in food preparation is becoming popular.  If grown organically (without pesticides), flowers and leaves can be used fresh, and both buds and stems can be used dried.  Culinary Lavender is a member of the mint family and is closely related to rosemary, sage, and thyme.

Culinary Lavender has a sweet, floral flavor, with lemon and citrus notes.  The potency of the lavender flowers increases with drying. English Lavender (l. angustifolia and munstead) has the sweetest fragrance of all the lavenders and is most commonly used in cooking.  Just use your imagination on how to use some lavender to add a new flavor component to your cooking. When you add just the perfect amount of lavender to a buttery cake or cookie, its role is the same as vanilla. It is best used as a background flavor that adds depth and fullness to the flavor profile but does not announce itself too boldly.

History of Lavender:

Lavender has been a favorite herb for many centuries. The historic use and recognition of lavender is almost as old the history of man.  As an herb, lavender has been in documented use for over 2,500 years.

In ancient times lavender was used for mummification and perfume by the Egyptians, Phoenicians, and peoples of Arabia.  The Greeks and the Romans bathed in lavender scented water and it was from the Latin word “lavo” meaning “to wash” that the herb took its name.  Lavender soon spread across Europe from Greece.

Queen Elizabeth I of England valued lavender as a conserve and a perfume.  It has been said that she commanded that the royal table should never be without conserve of lavender and she issued orders to her gardeners that fresh lavender flowers should be available all year round.  She also drank an abundance of Lavender tea to help ease her migraines and used it as a body perfume.

Queen Victoria of England is most notable for making Lavender popular and it could be found, in one form or another, in every one of her rooms, as she used it to wash floors and furniture, freshen the air, and had it strewn among the linens.

During the First World War, nurses bathed soldiers’ wounds with lavender washes.  To this day, the French continue to send baby lamb to graze in fields of lavender, so their meat will be tender and fragrant. Today Lavender is most commonly used in aromatherapy. The fragrance from the oils of the lavender plant is believed to help promote calmness and wellness. It’s also said to help reduce stress, anxiety, and possibly even mild pain.

Using Lavender at Beechwood Inn

At Beechwood Inn we are always looking for new ways to enhance our dining experience with subtle uses of lavender. Gayle makes lavender sugar to dust on cookies, scones and breakfast breads. She also makes a jelly out of lavender too to be spread on bread and muffins. Put some in sparkling water for a relaxing lift. One of my favorite recipes is her Lavender Honey Pound Cake with Lavender Ice Cream. Very decadent. Want the recipe?

Lavender is considered safe for adults but certain precautions are advisable. Be careful in applying pure lavender oils to the skin and administering concentrated lavender to children.

By David and Gayle Darugh