Lavender, perfume in the fields and taste in the kitchen

Many farmers in Tuscany have started cultivating lavender and the flowering lavender fields have become a very popular tourist destination, not only in Provence but also in our region you can appreciate the purple fields, particularly in the Montespertoli areas. If you missed the flowering of the lavender fields… you can always fix it: the end of summer is the right time to harvest lavender, here are some signs that indicate when the right time to harvest it is:

Full bloom: This is when the flowers will be most fragrant and flavourful, the flowers are fully open and have reached their shape.

Color: Lavender flowers should be a vibrant, deep color. The exact shade may vary depending on the variety of lavender grown, but in general, the flowers should have a beautiful purple color.

Aroma: by lightly rubbing the flowers between your fingers you will smell a strong scent, if intense it is a sign that the flowers are ready for harvesting.

Dried lavender flowers, as well as scenting rooms, are also excellent in the kitchen, for flavoring biscuits, cakes, ice creams, sauces, delicious risottos, marinades and even drinks. Here are some examples:

Lavender Cookies: add chopped dried lavender to the dough to give them a unique flavor. Perfect with tea.

Lavender Ice Cream: use lavender essential oil or dried lavender to flavor the ice cream. The slightly floral flavor goes well with the sweetness of the ice cream.

Lavender Honey: introduce dried lavender flowers into honey to have an aromatic and scented mixture to spread or add to yogurt and to sweeten tea.

Lavender Creme Brulee: add lavender flowers or essential oil to the cream for a floral touch.

Salmon with Lavender: prepare a marinade based on olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and chopped dried lavender to flavor the salmon before cooking it.

Lavender Lemonade: Add dried lavender flowers to lemonade for a refreshing, flavorful drink.

Be careful. the flowers, fresh or dried, have a very intense aroma and must therefore be dosed with balance. A trick to tone down the pungent aroma of flowers when preparing desserts is to leave them to infuse a little in warm milk, milk which will then be used for the dessert mixture once cooled and filtered.

The leaves, however, are more delicate and therefore suitable for flavoring savory dishes, perhaps with the addition of a mix of Mediterranean herbs such as rosemary, sage, thyme, basil, marjoram, savory, mint, perfect for flavoring fresh cheeses, creamed first courses, vegetables, salads, scrambled eggs and grilled meats.