03 Jul2008

Lavender in Bloom…

by Marketman

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I always thought it would be cool to see the endless fields of lavender in Grasse, in the South of France, whose fragrance is so linked to products from the area such as soaps, perfumes, etc. Paintings from famous impressionist artists, photos and films have all featured these stunning fields of lavender blooms.

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But I have not been to the South of France yet, so this photo of a lavender bush in the heart of Athens will have to do for now. I didn’t realize that there were so many different types of lavender, and that this particular variety is not the same type of lavender that I wrote about months ago and which is used primarily as a flavoring ingredient. This French Lavender grows profusely and provides terrific garden cover with fragrant flowers, that unfortunately, also attract an incredible amount of wasps or bees that are a bit unnerving to walk through…

 

COMMENTS:

  1. chrisb says:

    Was surprised to see fresh lavender leaves and flowers at the herbs section of S&R a few weeks ago.

    Jul 3, 2008 | 3:26 pm

     
  2. SimplePleasure says:

    wow that’s way cool! We have lavander now! Read in the inquirer few weeks ago that the founder of Basic Necessities now plants them locally . Haven’t yet seen them though

    Jul 3, 2008 | 3:54 pm

     
  3. annette says:

    It was one of our pleasant surprises during our recent trip to Nice. Walking out the train station, we passed by a lush and blooming lavender shrub. We actually smelled it before we saw it. It was such a nice fresh smell and how lovely that it wasn’t coming from a bottle. We bought a big bottle of lavender massage oil at the Cours Selaya Market, hoping to bring the memory home. Alas, we forgot about the hand carry restriction on liquids and sobbed as we had to leave the bottle at the airport. Sniff…

    Jul 3, 2008 | 4:27 pm

     
  4. AleXena says:

    May I ask to which food can lavander be used as a flavoring ingredient and how will it taste like?=) I got a bit curious learning that this can be added to dishes.

    Good day!=)

    Jul 3, 2008 | 4:42 pm

     
  5. Tereswa says:

    Yes, you must visit Grasse MM. A breath taking morning view of the riviera from the mountains is a must see. Yes, lavander abounds. You must also visit the old perfume museum when you go there. You will also find a charcuterie shop which sells olive tree seadlings. To this day, I regret not having bought and brought a seedling home to the Philippines. I wonder if it would grow here.

    Jul 3, 2008 | 5:21 pm

     
  6. Marketman says:

    Alexena, you can “perfume” custards, cakes, cookies and even drinks with lavender…though I have to admit, I have not made any of these dishes myself. I did bring home some lavender so I will probably try to use it in the weeks ahead…

    Jul 3, 2008 | 5:39 pm

     
  7. Apicio says:

    Your description of the olive trees’ traditional “harshish” habitat in the previous post actually reminded me of the growing conditions they foist on lavender plants. Apparently, it is when they grow in borderline hostile conditions that they yield more intense fragrance and this thought of course lead me to the epicurean Taiwan teas that they nip off bushes stunted by the high-altitude cold conditions of a certain number of their mountain top plantations.

    One of the classic lavender drinks of course is Proust’s aunt’s infusion into which he ever so discreetly dunked madelaines.

    Jul 3, 2008 | 6:51 pm

     
  8. nina says:

    I love the aroma of lavender and its color too.

    Jul 3, 2008 | 7:25 pm

     
  9. mojito_drinker says:

    hi mm – when i lived in san francisco, i used to buy bundles of lavender every week at the embarcadero. they made my apt smell sooo good!

    Jul 3, 2008 | 8:20 pm

     
  10. sister says:

    Take a train trip from Paris to Cannes or Monte Carlo in June and you will pass by miles of lavender, both wild on the hillsides and cultivated fields. A visit to the perfume factories in Grasse or Esse gives you more respect for how many blooms have to be distilled to go into that little bottle of perfume.

    Jul 3, 2008 | 8:53 pm

     
  11. betty q. says:

    Alexena: If you’re in the US or North America…it is berry season now…you can make BLUEBERRY Butter with a hint of LAVENDER (makes people wondering and guessing what that added ingredient is!!!). I’ve had people wanting to buy this stuff from me BUT I usually tell them they would have to wait for Christmas since that will be one of their Christmas presents…also goes well with panna cottas ORANGE LAVENDER is a MUST TRY!!!! I have used it as a filling for BRAZOS (orange-lavender crema)

    MM: try it in making pastillas or yemas…you are in for a surprise that is muy delicioso!!!!

    Jul 3, 2008 | 9:43 pm

     
  12. presentacion says:

    i have seen lavander plants in bloom at the quezon memorial circle, the area with different herbal plants, nice smell.

    Jul 3, 2008 | 9:51 pm

     
  13. tnm says:

    I love, love, love lavender. I have killed many plants thru the years and now have learned that benign neglect is the secret. Lavender plants love hot sunny weather. Do not water them too much as they hate that. Just leave them alone. No fussing over them.

    Once I made lavender ice cream. I really liked it but it was dissed by my spouse who said it reminded him of bath soap.

    Jul 3, 2008 | 10:30 pm

     
  14. betty q. says:

    TNM; that is so funny! Try again but this time, just a HINT of lavender when you make the base…a little goes a loooong way!!! …also zest an orange, addd it into the scalded cream, add a PINCH of lavender and let it steep. Before you churn your ice cream , add pistachios….your spouse will change his mind about your lavender ice cream!!! Does he like truffles? Make this combinaton adding it to white chocolate and a bit of Grand Marnier. He will SWOON with each bite!!!

    I use this combination of ORANGE

    Jul 3, 2008 | 11:00 pm

     
  15. navyGOLF says:

    Try the Lavender Spa scent of AmbiPur for your car, i guarantee the relaxing feel amidst traffic in Edsa hehe…

    Jul 4, 2008 | 2:58 am

     
  16. AleXena says:

    Thanks Market Man and Ms. Betty Q. for the information.=) So its more of the perfume than the taste of lavander.

    I think I haven’t tried any food perfumed with lavander yet but since Ms. Betty suggested that I used it for pastillas, I will try it.=) I once saw lavander sprigs in SM Supermarket and I thought I was just dreaming;P

    Ms. Betty if I perfume my pastillas with lavander what should be the process? Thanks a lot!

    Good day!=)

    Jul 4, 2008 | 8:35 am

     
  17. linda says:

    MM,I put a few drops of lavander oil on folded tissue and insert it in my pillow and I find it helps me go to sleep quicker and the smell is so gorgeous!

    betty q,you make everything sound sooooooo wonderful! I’ll try everything you suggested sometime.Salamat!

    Jul 4, 2008 | 9:05 am

     
  18. shalimar says:

    everytime i think of my life in south of france, i think of lavender…

    Jul 4, 2008 | 11:14 am

     
  19. tnm says:

    @betty q, thanks so much for the suggestion, will definitely try all of the above.

    Jul 4, 2008 | 10:20 pm

     
  20. kurzhaar says:

    Growing lavender…easiest way to kill lavender is keeping its roots moist. Lavender needs very well drained (sandy is nice) soil and you should let it go pretty dry between watering. I failed miserably the first couple of times I tried growing lavender but now have learned to keep its feet dry and have five varieties at home.

    Cooking with lavender…I’ve used this now for several years and find it is an herb that some people love and others positively loathe. It is quite strong in the way epazote can be, so try in SMALL amounts first(a small pinch can go a long way)–you can always add more if needed but if you use too much you can ruin the recipe. And of course use only lavender you have grown yourself or specifically labelled for culinary use.

    Suggestions:

    I find that the English lavenders are somewhat sweeter than the French, which has a sharper, more resiny flavor. So I prefer the former for sweets and the latter for savoury recipes.

    Lavender sugar–add a teaspoon or two of dried English lavender to a cup of sugar and let sit for a few days or so. Pleasant in teas or to sprinkle over sugar cookies, madeleines, or shortbread.

    Lavender in ice-creams. I have made a fresh fig ice-cream with and without lavender…different, I liked them both, but some people like one or the other only.

    Best of all, I like lavender for grilled meats–in my house this is often lamb kebabs or duck breasts. Combine French lavender with garlic or thyme or rosemary (or all). Or lavender (just a light touch) and coarse sea salt as a finish for grilled veggies.

    Dried lavender is great in sachets for scenting clothes and linens, in pillows, etc. However, lavender oil should not be applied directly to the skin as in this concentrated form it can be toxic. Note that lavender was reported a year or so ago to be both an anti-androgen and a estrogen mimic. So I would avoid using lavender products (or eating lavender) by boys who are still growing, or if you have hormone issues. The report is in the N. Engl. J. Med. 356(5):479-85 (2007).

    Jul 5, 2008 | 6:37 am

     
  21. kurzhaar says:

    On a related note, I’d encourage people to explore the fascinating scented Pelargoniums (sometimes called scented geraniums…they are actually not geraniums but a close relative). They are grown for their foliage rather than their flowers, and come in dozens of varieties, with scents ranging from mint to apple to citrus to pine, and YES they are useful in cooking. Teas, ice-creams or sorbets, scented sugars, etc. Nice adjunct to lavenders and the plants like similar conditions (though less cold-hardy). Easy to grow from cuttings, thrives on neglect (although pruning helps keep a tidy shape), and amazingly scented…how can you lose?!

    Jul 5, 2008 | 7:11 am

     
  22. betty q. says:

    Alexena: Preferred milk to use for pastillas is fresh carabao’s milk (the one with fresh cream floating on top of the bottle). I don’t have access to carabao’s milk here so I use fresh organic milk (comes in a glasss bottle …fresh cream floating on top of the milk). Add your BRUISED fresh lavender LEAVES (..to release the essential oils and preferably organically grown). Simmer until reduced to half the original amount. I use a double boiler so that I don’t scorch the botttom of the pot. nOW, REMEMBER you just want a WHIFF of lavender scent. You’re not after the Perfume you can dab on your ear lobes!!!…hahaha…Anyway, like my mom said..IT IS BETTER TO ERR ON THE SIDE OF LESS THAN MORE!!!!You can always add more if you wish…Back to pastillas…strain the scented milk and add your sugar. If you wish to add orange zest. do so. Here’s where your strong wrists come into play. You have to stir until thickened. DO NOT USE ALUMINUM POT OR SANDOK> it will discolor your creamy white pastillas. I do urge you try the one with Orange zest and lvender too.

    Since it is a pain in the neck to stir such a huge amount, I usually do only 4 lites of milk at a time (2 to 3 litres after reduction). Better yet, I would make truffles instead of this. Same procedure…add your lavender leaves, orange zest and Grand Marnier or Cointreau to heavy cream ..let it come to a simmer and let it steep. Then strain and add your scented cream to white chocolate. Place the pieces of unsalted butter in it and stir until melted. Then pour in containers and refrigerate. Form into balls . Coat with tempered white chocolate. If you want to do this, try a small amount first..like 1/2 pound of good quality white chocolate, 1/4 cup heay cream. 1 or 2 pinches of fresh lavender leaves, 1 tablespoon of Grand Marnier or zest of 1 small orange, 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter. This will yield about 4 dozens 1 inch truffles.

    Jul 5, 2008 | 7:40 am

     
  23. kurzhaar says:

    betty q…am curious as to why you specify the leaves? Most lavender recipes use the buds (fresh or dried) as that is where the highest concentration of oils are found.

    What is a sandok?

    Jul 5, 2008 | 11:39 am

     
  24. betty q. says:

    Hello kurzhaar…You are most certainly right! The highest concentration of oils (camphor) is in the blooms….the darker the bloom, the higher concentration of oils making it more fragrant. That is why a pinch in most cases would suffice to use in a recipe. The leaves are less aromatic than the blooms and therefore I don’t run the risk of having my custards smell like soap!!! Also I am not after color (purple). But this is just me …feel free to use the blooms. But remember that the DRIED FLOWERS ARE MORE POTENT THAN FRESH ONES…so use them SPARINGLY, ladies and gentlemen!!!

    A SANDOK (looks like a giant spoon) is a kitchen utensil used when sauteeing something in a skillet. I grew up using this utensil back home made out of aluminum.

    Your comment above about using it with your grilled lamb kabobs…have you tried using the lavender stalk as your skewer like people use the rosemary stalk as the skewer for their kabobs?

    Jul 5, 2008 | 1:06 pm

     
  25. leticia says:

    this is one of my favorite topics here. thanks MM!

    betty q, it’s always a delight reading your comments…and you are generous as ever with your skills.

    Jul 5, 2008 | 8:43 pm

     
  26. eej says:

    I have beautiful English lavender blooming profusely in my front yard as we speak. The moment I get off my car and walk pass it, the scent is just heavenly and calming. Makes me want to rush in to a spa…

    Jul 5, 2008 | 11:16 pm

     
  27. betty q. says:

    Another use for lavender…HERBES DE PROVENCE!!! A long time ago, I received a jar of this wonderful herb mix from a dear friend. I’ve used it all up. It’s wonderful sprinkled on chicken and then roasted on barbecue grill on a rotisserie…or used to make a compound butter….or in a vinaigrette. There are so many recipes on the web to make your own herbes de provence. Feel free to experiment using your favorite herbs…LAVENDER is traditionally used. I like a mixture of basil, thyme, oregano, rosemary, bay leaves and a pinch of dried lavender, and pinch of tarragon.

    Jul 6, 2008 | 3:28 am

     
  28. kurzhaar says:

    Hi betty q.,

    Actually some lavenders have very pale flowers–I have one English varietal right now (I think it is called “Alba”) that has pale green leaves and almost white flowers and it is extraordinarily fragrant, more so (to my nose) than the Hidcote, Munstead, or Lady varietals. I have only grown this one for a couple of years but it seems as vigourous as the more common varietals. But for those with purple or blue flowers, yes, I agree the scent deepens as the flower matures and darkens…although I think the scent also becomes less sweet as this happens.

    I tried the lavender stalks once, and didn’t really see a plus to them. The stalks that have aromaticity are usually too floppy to hold the kebabs–unlike rosemary stalks, which I have used both as skewers or simply to throw on the fire (we had lots of lavender and rosemary in California and could afford to be liberal with the stalks!).

    I also grow other edible flowers. I adore the peppery bite of nasturtiums (flowers and leaves)…they are a member of the watercress family but in my opinion much prettier than watercress! I stuff the flowers with a mild fresh goat’s milk cheese…a perfect late spring nibble. A salad of nasturtium flowers and leaves with slices of something crisp (pears or jicama are my favourite) is lovely on the plate and to eat.

    Jul 6, 2008 | 10:09 am

     
  29. dhayL says:

    I love the smell of lavender, it’s soothing and relaxing…whenever i buy fabreeze i always pick the lavender, it smells so good in pillows and curtains! :)

    Jul 7, 2008 | 6:04 am

     
  30. Mara Pacubas says:

    Hey! My name is Mara Pacubas and I really need your help, where c an I find nasturtium flower here in the philippines? If you know please e-mail it to me, I really need the answer ryt away, for our Investigatory Project. Thank you!!!!

    Oct 29, 2008 | 10:27 am

     
  31. Lavender says:

    Lavender is my favorite – I hope that your plants do well. Enjoy the amazing fragrance!

    Mar 14, 2009 | 6:17 am

     
  32. SD says:

    are nasturtiums available here in manila?

    Jun 5, 2010 | 4:11 pm

     
 

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