There are many different varieties of Lavender to be found and perhaps the most easily recognisable are French Lavender seen here...
...and the English variety, below...
With its pretty flowers, found in a range of purple hues, and bee-enticing fragrance, I think Lavender is my favourite garden herb. It is also, without a doubt, one of the most versatile and useful plants you can grow.
Perhaps not overly associated with culinary uses, Lavender can in fact provide a fragrant twist to some classic confectionery and dessert recipes, such as Lavender shortbread (found here and pictured below), Honey and Lavender ice-cream and Lavender cupcakes.
One way to incorporate a delicate taste of Lavender into your baking is to use Lavender sugar, which can be made following these simple instructions.
1) Take a jar which can be sealed tight and fill with caster sugar.
2) Gather two tablespoons of lavender flowers (either fresh or dried).
3) Place the flowers in a square of muslin cloth and tie using thread.
4) Place the lavender bundle into the jar with the sugar.
5) Leave for two weeks, shaking up every day or so.
After two weeks your sugar will have a delicate fragrance and can be used in place of caster sugar in your recipes. Some people prefer to place the lavender flowers directly into the sugar for a stronger flavour and pretty, decorative effect.
More on some of the medicinal properties and other uses of lavender to come.