I haven’t gone so far as to roll in a patch of lavender, but I’m taken with the flavor and scent.

Last week’s Dining A La King explored the amazing plant with a trip to Lavender Hill Farm in Niles, Mich.

One of the biggest questions from people around the herb is: “What do you do with it?”

The notion of putting an herb in pesto or salsa isn’t foreign to us, but we don’t often reach for lavender. So in the past week, since visiting Lavender Hill, I’ve been playing with the herb.

Journeyman Distillery shared the recipe for the lavender gimlet, one of its most popular drinks. Gin is infused with lavender buds and mixed with grapefruit and lime juices and simple syrup. I stopped by and had one the other day and it is a lovely drink, particularly at this time of year.

The botanical flavors from the gin and the lavender come through the acid of the citrus.

I got a small bottle of gin and added 3/4 teaspoon of dried lavender buds to 200 ml for 24 hours. I strained out the buds and threw them away and recapped the gin for use. At Journeyman’s Staymaker bar, there were a few buds floating in the drink, which I didn’t think was attractive because of their small, dark appearance.

Here’s the recipe for their gimlet, shared by the distillery:

LAVENDER GIMLET

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 oz lavender-infused Bilberry Black Hearts Gin
  • 0.5 oz lime juice
  • 0.5 oz grapefruit juice
  • 0.5 oz simple syrup

Directions:

  1. In a shaker glass, combine all ingredients with ice and shake.
  2. Strain into a small stemmed glass. If you have a gimlet glass for any drink made with gin and lime juice, by all means use that.

So there’s this lovely drink you can make with a little work, but I also had fun making lavender ice cream. Some friends were dubious, but with fresh peaches it worked. Trust me.

My go-to recipe for ice cream is the one from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams and her excellent book, “Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home.” The base is whole milk, cream, cream cheese and light corn syrup. Her recipes make a quart, which is perfect for the counter-top ice cream maker with the insert you keep in the freezer. You can find the full recipe here.

A small bit of lavender oil in the right homemade ice cream pairs well with fruit. Marshall V. King/Flavor 574
A small bit of lavender oil in the right homemade ice cream pairs well with fruit.
Marshall V. King/Flavor 574

Her recipe for Wild Berry Lavender Ice Cream calls for using wild blueberries and essential oils of lavender and sweet orange. I didn’t have wild blueberries, so I used frozen raspberries to make the compote. I had lavender oil from the farm, but not orange oil, so I used some orange bitters.

The result was a creamy, floral ice cream with a berry undergirding. It worked. I’m a fan. I’m not going to abandon ice cream with big chunks of chocolate or caramel swirl for this one, but it was nice to make and have in the repertoire.

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