Lavender flowers look lovely and smell delightful, but they’re good for much more than nosegays and potpourri. This shrubby Mediterranean plant has been used for cleansing and healing purposes since ancient times. Its very botanical name, Lavandula, is believed to derive from the Latin verb “to wash” (lavare). Lavender oil is used in aromatherapy to help cases of mild anxiety, and lavender flowers in tea are thought to ease indigestion.

As a culinary herb, lavender has a unique affinity for both sweet and savory foods. If you’ve ever used the French blend called herbes de Provence, you’ve tasted lavender in the mix. And there are countless other ways to enjoy this fragrant herb in your home cooking.

Lavender is well known for adding its delicate aroma and flavor to baked goods, ice creams and even cheeses and coffee — lavender lattés, anyone? We use our lavender sugar to flavor and sweeten a wide variety of treats and drinks, such as the lemonade recipe below.

Canadian recipe blogger Natasha Bull of adds lavender flavor to panna cotta by steeping one tablespoon of lavender to two tablespoons of water for 15 minutes, then straining out the flowers and retaining the infusion. This lavender water can be used in all kinds of preparations, both sweet and savory.

Lavender’s fresh taste also enhances tomato salads, as in the recipe below, and salad dressings as well. And you might be surprised to learn that lavender pairs beautifully with beef and venison. Start with a pinch in your next marinade or stew, and you might find yourself adding even more in the future.

Another way to enjoy lavender with meat is to create a simple rub with lavender sea salt and coarsely ground or cracked black pepper. Apply the rub all over your steak or chops, then grill. Or if you’re making steak au poivre, add a pinch of lavender flowers to the pepper sauce.

Whatever you do with lavender, make sure the flowers you use are meant for culinary use. Our shop sells culinary lavender in both whole and powdered forms, as well as pre-mixed lavender sugar for baking and beverages.

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Sel Gris and Lavender

Serves 2

5 cups chopped heirloom tomatoes (about 4 if small in size)

1/4 cup chopped red onion

1/4 tsp black pepper, ground

1/2 tsp sel gris (gray salt)

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1/4 tsp. dried lavender flowers

Combine and enjoy.

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Lavender Lemonade

Makes 1 glass

1 cup water

1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1 tsp. lavender sugar

2 tsp. turbinado sugar

4 ice cubes

Mix all ingredients and serve over ice.