A Little Bit of Lavender
I love everything about lavender: the grey leaves, the wonderful array of colours (dark blue is my favourite) the evocative smell and the fact that if you don’t water it, it seems to positively thrive I could look at pictures of lavender fields all day – blue ridges dreamily stretching for miles in hazy summer sunshine. It’s a long held dream to live on a lavender farm. Unlikely unfortunately, but the next best thing is to visit one
I’ve done some rooting around, and come up with a Woolly Green list of lavender farms that anyone can visit. Somerset Lavender is the closest to me, so I’m off there this week. I think it will do me some good and there’s quite a bit of evidence to back me up.
The name ‘Lavender’ or Lavandula actually comes from the Latin lavare ‘to wash’ (ooh get me!) because it’s oils were used originally in cleaning clothes – and presumably ‘de-whiffing’ them too
Later, during the Middle Ages, lavender was recognised by apothecaries for its cure–all properties, and grown as a herb in gardens; by the 19th century there was small–scale production within reach of London’s markets but, gradually, disease, urbanisation and the development of cheaper, synthetic perfumes saw lavender production die out in the late 1800s.
As it is neither sweet nor savoury, good cooks use lavender to soften sharp fruits such as gooseberries and rhubarb, lessening the need for sugar. And its scent works wonderfully with sharp citric flavours: – any recipe that is lemon based can work well with lavender, so have a go and let us know how you get on Dried lavender flowers can be used to make a delicately scented shortbread, or scattered over roast beef.
I’m going take some leaves to dry as a herb and have a go at my own version of herbes de Provence which blends thyme, fennel, savory, marjoram, rosemary and lavender.
My version will be known as herbes de Somerset (!) Well, it has been a lovely summer