I’m a lover of unexpected fusions of flavors. When I landed upon a delightful concoction of Lavender Lemonade at Eatonville Restaurant in Washington D.C., I was hell-bent on deciphering the recipe. Unfortunately, Aretha, the waitress was not too forthcoming about all the sweet details. Never one to give up, I picked up a bag of culinary lavender at the Union Square Farmer’s Market in New York City and got to experimenting in the kitchen like a mad scientist.
Now, you can’t just pick up any old lavender from the store. No use getting those dried fragrant bundles West Elm sells to spruce up the smell of a dank room. That will have your stomach churning faster than a Texas tornado. Culinary lavender is specially cultivated and can be added into drinks and even certain meat dishes. It gives foods an outright aromatic flavor and surprisingly adds a sweetness that cuts the tartness of citrus.
Boiling the lavender will make any kitchen smell like a field in France. It makes a floral tea that turns brown in the boil.
But don’t let the look of lavender fool you. When mixed with the acid of lemon juice, the lilac leaves can turn the liquid a bright pink! The hidcote variety is the type that makes this pretty and unusual hue. Get in the kitchen pronto and get your mad scientist on.
4 tbsp culinary lavender
2 cups of freshly squeezed lemon juice (8 lemons)
2 cups of water (for lavender tea)
1/2 cup of sugar (for tea)
8 cups of cold water
1/2 cup of sugar (to taste)
1) Squeeze lemons to make at least 2 cups of lemon juice.
2) Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Pour in the culinary lavender and 1/2 cup of sugar. Bring tea down to medium-high and boil for 10 minutes.
3) Strain the leaves out of the tea. Set aside.
4) Pour lemon juice and lavender tea together in a pitcher. Add the cold water. The hidcote variety should turn the lemonade pink.
5) Add more sugar to taste. Serves 8.