Monday, April 18, 2011

Cooking With Lavender - Beyond Aromatherapy

Lavender has been a variety popular herb for hundreds of years. Use of this herb has actually been documented back more than 2500 years ago. At one time, it was used for perfume and mummification by the ancient Egyptians. The English Lavender that we know about today was not around until the 1600s and it was not even developed in England either. It was Queen Victoria that would make it so popular in England. It was even used during World War I to help bath the wounds of soldiers. Even today, the French allow their baby lambs to graze in the lavender fields, which are supposed to make their meat fragrant and very tender.

Cooking with Lavender

When it comes to cooking with lavender, you will want to only use about 1/3 of dried lavender as opposed to fresh lavender. Just remember, if you add too much to a recipe, it can make the dish very better. A little can go a long way, since this is a very strong herb.

One of the benefits of cooking with lavender is that it adds great color to many dishes. In bread recipes, you can often substitute it in for rosemary. Another option is to seal sugar in a bag together with some lavender flowers. After a couple weeks, use the sugar in desserts for a special flavor. The lavender flowers make a great garnish that will look lovely on the table.

Harvesting the flowers correctly is important. Go with those that are in full color. If they are wilted, avoid using them. Make sure you rinse the blooms before every using them while you are cooking. If you harvest a lot of lavender at one time, drying it is a great option.

Lavender White Truffle Crostini Recipe

Wondering how to start using lavender in your cooking? Here is an easy and tasty recipe that you can use as a great appetizer. You will be sure to wow guests with the lavender flowers you use in the recipe.

What You'll Need:

  • ½ cup of black olive paste (if you cannot find paste, process green and black olives until smooth and use instead of paste)
  • 8 slices of Italian style bread, ½ thick
  • ½ teaspoon of lavender flowers
  • 1 teaspoon of white truffle oil
How to Make:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Place the slices of bread on a baking sheet. Bake in oven for 5-6 minutes or until they are lightly toasted. In a mini processor or a bowl, mash your olive paste, lavender flowers, and the truffle oil until combined. Spread this on the bread while it is still warm and serve right away.

Tag : lavender,aromatherapy,cooking

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Lavender Oils: Do You Know How to Choose the Best Quality?

Lavender oil is one of the most popular essential oils for aromatherapy. Health benefits of lavender oil have been documented in numerous studies and researches. Some of the well known benefits include its ability to induce sleep, relieve nerve tension, uplift mood, relieve pain, and improve respiratory functions. To experience those benefits, aromatherapy and health related books and articles advise us to use "pure" oil.

However, there is no international guideline that would help us to determine the quality of the oil. Without reliable guideline, how can we buy good quality lavender oil? In this article, first, conditions that will affect the quality of lavender oil will be discussed. Second, important considerations to find good lavender oil will be discussed.

The quality of lavender oil is greatly influenced by several factors. First, it is the quality of lavender itself. It is greatly affected by the soil condition, temperature, and amount of rain fall. Lavender is sensitive to humidity and heat.

Second, it is the timing of processing. To produce good oil and preserve quality, lavender has to be distilled and processed immediately after harvesting.

Lastly, the way the oil is packed, stored, and handled affects the quality. After the oil is produced, it has to be stored in a tightly closed, darkened glass container and placed in a cool and dark place. Chemical degradation can occur when the product is exposed to heat, light, or oxygen.

With these things in mind, what do we need to look for?

  • If you are seeking health benefits, do not buy oils that have like "fragrance oil," "scented oil," and "perfume oil" on the labels. Those products are artificial and cannot be used for aromatherapy.
  • Is the Latin name of the lavender provided in the label? There are many different kinds of lavender. Looking for the Latin names of lavender is important because they have different aromatic uses. Mainly four kinds of lavender are used as oil. They are True lavender (Lavandula angustifolia or Lavandul officinalis), Spike lavender (Lavandula spica), French lavender (Lavandula stoecas), and Lavandin (Lavandula hybrida).
  • Does the label provide the country of origin and/or a lot number? The information of the country of origin is important because the quality of lavender oil can vary by the country. It is more desirable if the label has a lot number because responsible and respectable companies assign the numbers to their products to assure safety and quality. With lot numbers, they can track information about the country of origin and the year that lavender olis was produced as well as the quality of the oil.
  • Research the market price. If the price is really law, the oil is probably fake or synthetic.
If you are still in doubt about your judgment, it is always best to ask questions before purchasing your lavender oils, whether from online or in a store.

Tag : lavender,lavender oils,oils