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Dec 20, 2010 10:49 PM

culinary versus garden variety lavender... Question

I saw here on the garden area that some are eating their lavender from the garden. I am wondering if that is really culinary lavender. I mean is it suitable for eating? I have a variety that looks like culinary lavender (I think it is english), but the dried pods are so large that I think putting them in food might be a little obnoxious. And the smell is very powerful. And spanish lavender - the ones with the little feathery looking cap - those do not seem well suited to eating and I am not sure those even come off as little pods off the head - but more rather like a whole clump refusing to be separated.

So does someone know whether they are one in the same? I am suspect.

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  1. Your question got me thinking, and I found this article:

    I have always bought 'Munstead' for my garden, because that's the one being sold with all the other culinary herbs at the garden center. Honestly, though, I don't cook with it. I do have Herbes de Provence, that I love to cook with, and wouldn't be the same without lavender in it. However, I tend to not trust myself to not make it too perfume-y.

    I think it is a matter of trying and tasting multiple varieties until you find one that suits you in texture and flavor. I am rather obnoxious in the garden center, pulling leaves off of herb plants to taste them. I almost never buy a plant I intend to eat without doing that first.

    4 Replies
    1. re: centralpadiner

      Well. That word of caution at the bottom of that link is an eye-opener. Thank you for providing a link for good info and clarification. I looked before I posted, but I am evidently not as Googlicious as I thought.

      I looked at a bunch of varieties and I have NO idea what we have. Best not to eat it and just continue to cut and dry it for the scent I guess.

      I snip, rub and eat at the garden center too. I should probably watch doing that - I am sure I am chockfulla pesticides.

      A small note on lavender. It repels fleas (if you have a dog or cat with issues). So it is also good to keep around in case the plague strikes again. Food for thought.

      1. re: Sal Vanilla

        I took it to mean that while all lavender flowers are edible, not all flowers, in general are edible. You shouldn't have any risks from you lavender flowers, it is just an issue of taste.

        I found this list of edible flowers

        1. re: centralpadiner

          That's a very helpful table! Thanks for posting the link.

      2. re: centralpadiner

        I realize this thread is a little dusty, but it's pretty important to mention about here that the Herbes de Provence that you buy in supermarkets (and from herb vendors in the markets) in France doesn't have lavender in it at all (just winter savoury, fennel, basil, and thyme), and other than some isolated exceptions the French don't eat lavender at all -- they love the fragrance and put it in their closets, they make ironing water with it, add it to cleaning products, and grow it in enormous mounds by the front door, dab the oil on insect bites and on their temples to soothe a headache...but they don't eat it.

        Adding lavender to the mix is done purely for the export and tourist markets.

      3. I have Munstead, something the tag said was English but is indistinguishable from Munstead and a red variety. I use them all in culinary situations, pretty much interchangeably. I've never seen a specific variety labeled as or for culinary use. Pesticide-free is my only criteria.

        2 Replies
        1. re: morwen

          I think the other warning for people who might not be gardeners is to beware of lavender that is sold for potpourri and may have had fragrance oils and/or orris root added to it. I have tried a few simple recipes such as shortbread cookies with lavender. It's very pleasant. In fact, I was thinking of making a lavender cookie or cake recipe to take to the next plant swap which is usually late June.

          1. re: dfrostnh

            Most definitely avoid lavender from craft stores! I didn't even think about that. The local health/gourmet food store here sells bulk lavender buds in its' herb/spice section. Places like that are the spots to purchase lavender for culinary use if you don't grow it.

        2. I buy my culinary grade lavender from Atlantic Spice Company. They carry both grades, their prices are reasonable and they ship quickly.

          1. All lavendar flowers - regardless of cultivar - are edible. However, it is advisable not to eat the buds/blooms of plants you've just purchased, as these may have been sprayed with toxic chemicals, unless you've purchased from a strictly organic source. Brand-new buds/blooms that emerge after you've purchased & planted your new stock should be safe.

            If you're buying dried buds/blooms for cooking purposes, then ONLY buy from a culinary source. Do NOT consume dried buds/blooms purchased from non-culinary sources like craft stores, etc.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Breezychow

              My two favorite varieties are the hybrids Lavandula x Intermedia 'Provence' and L. x Intermedia 'Grosso'. They have the fewest turpentine characterics to the oil (where the scent and flavor come from) ; they also dry the best with tight compact flower buds. Between the two, 'Grosso' is most useful for drying on the stalk for decor purposes as 'Provence' tends to shatter when dry, leaving you with empty stems. But if all you want to save is the buds, 'Provence' is perfect.

              The wolley buds of Spanish lavenders are not suitable for drying well. English lavender hybrids (i.e.:'Munstead', 'Hidcote' and the English/Intermedia crosses 'Grosso' and 'Provence') display the tightest bud arrangements. A little goes along way. I grind them in an electric spice/coffee grinder with the sugar or other dry ingredient before putting into a recipe.