How To Select The Best Lavender For Cooking

Lavender is one of the most recognizable fragrances, given how diffused it is in everyday products from face cream to fabric softener to herbes de Provence spice blends. That said, not all lavender is created equal, which is why we're sharing some tips on how to select the best lavender for cooking.

According to Better Homes & Gardens, lavender is native to the Mediterranean, northeast Africa, and southwestern Asia, where it was often believed to have healing properties. In fact, when used topically, lavender has been known to reduce inflammation of skin conditions and promote wound healing, in addition to reducing anxiety and depression, notes Healthline.

When lavender is consumed, Livestrong explains that it provides significant amounts of vitamin A, iron, and calcium, which can support eye health, boost circulation, and strengthen bones. Although it's available as oils and capsules, culinary lavender (namely, English lavender) is usually sold as dried flower buds. But what exactly should you be looking for when buying lavender?

Pay attention to blue hues and minty aromas in lavender

Culinary lavender can usually be found at farmers' markets or sold by herb vendors. Opting for organic or pesticide-free varieties is always a sound choice, but there are a few other tips to remember when shopping for the highest quality lavender.

The first thing to take note of is color. Bon Appétit advises that tightly closed buds should be a vibrant violet color with a bluish tinge. Additionally, it's wise to take a whiff of the flowers. Rather than being overly perfumey, Lavender Connection reveals that culinary lavender should have a spicy yet clean aroma similar to mint.

Given that lavender has a floral taste, it's great when baking. That said, its herbaceous profile and almost balsamic undertones also pair well with pork chops, roasted potatoes, and leafy salads, per MasterClass. Just remember to use your dried lavender sparingly so that its deeply herbal flavors can enhance a dish rather than overpower it.