Unfortunately, this blog cannot share the scent of lavender on the breeze, the subtle aroma that surrounds the farm as the breezes sweep across the lavender fields.
To experience that, you should go yourself to a lavender farm. I went to the Deep Creek Lavender Farm, located in the rolling countryside of western Maryland, just a few days ago. The farm is as the quote suggests -- a magical place, tucked in the countryside, and feels magically removed from the outside world!
A visit to the farm offers a lovely place to enjoy a picnic -- either one that you packed yourself, or you can order one from a local business (the farm's website offers suggestions). There's pick your own lavender, so you can make your own bundles, and you can shop at the farm's store, which offers a variety of lavender products -- from essential oil to lavender chocolate bars (yum!), lavender jam, and sachets, among many other items. The farm also offers a variety of lavender-related events throughout the summer.
Lavender is best known for its fragrant, delicate appearance in soaps, sachets, essential oil and other body care products. But have you tried adding it to your cooking? Lavender is particularly compatible with the flavors of honey and lemon, and in fact, at the lavender farm, they offered samples of lavender lemonade. Lavender is a perfect summertime herb to brighten seasonal dishes!
Lavender can be used to add flavor and color to culinary recipes in either fresh or dried form. Some sites recommend that to prepare dry lavender for culinary use, snip the stems off the plant just after the flowers have opened and hang the stems upside down or lay them flat to dry. Wash the buds well, then dry-roast them to remove some of the floral taste or grind them in a coffee grinder to improve the texture.
The key to cooking with culinary lavender is to experiment; start out with a small amount of flowers, and add more as you go. A little goes a long way! (Too much, and you risk making the dish bitter.) Lavender leaves and stems can be substituted for rosemary in many recipes. Lavender also compliments dishes that incorporate fennel, oregano, rosemary, thyme, sage, and savory,
Lavender Roasted Potatoes
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a bowl, mix a tablespoon or two of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons dried culinary lavender.
- Prepare 2 lbs of red potatoes as you would for regular roasted potatoes, cutting in half or quartering.
- Place potatoes in a plastic bag, drizzling the olive oil mixture over. Shake to coat evenly.
- Spread potatoes evenly on a baking sheet; bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes, or until a fork goes into the potatoes easily.
Be sure that you're using culinary/edible lavender and not lavender prepared for things like potpourri, which sometimes has been treated with chemicals. Although there is no definitive difference between ornamental and culinary lavender, some varieties are better for cooking than others, as some varietals can almost leave a camphor-like aftertaste.
According to SF Gate (http://homeguides.sfgate.com/difference-between-lavender-culinary-lavender-28244.html), lavender plants belong to the mint family. Perhaps the most common species of lavender is Lavandula angustifolia, a species that belongs to the group referred to as English lavenders. Hybrids of the Lavandula angustifolia and Lavandula latifolia are called Lavandins, and these species are generally planted for ornamental use in gardens or commercially for use in cosmetics.
What's Cooking America (https://whatscookingamerica.net/Lavender.htm) notes that the sweet-smelling Lavandula angustifolia, “Munstead” cultivar is one of the best adding a subtle flavor in cooking. Though the leaves and stems of lavender plants can be used for culinary purposes, the flowers particularly give dishes a sweet, citrus flavor. It's also worth noting in dishes that call for rosemary, you can try the spikes and leaves of lavender instead!
(For other recipes featuring lavender, check out https://whatscookingamerica.net/Lavender.htm)
Deep Creek Lavender Farm is owned by Anne and Scott Davidson, who run the lavender farm more or less as their hobby, or rather, as Anne recently noted, "although it isn't our full time job it is far bigger than a hobby, but [I] do not know what the word would be between hobby farm and big farm business." What a wonderful extra-curricular activity (for lack of a better phrase), and how nice of them to share this with everyone!
Getting there: 625 Doerr Road, Accident, MD 21520
Hours: Memorial Day through Labor Day, Saturday, Sundays and Mondays, 10-5 each day.
Dogs: Yes, but check the website for details.
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