Lavender is grown commercially for extraction of its oil from its flowers and to some degree from its foliage. Lavender oil and lavender hydrosol is obtained through a distillation process.
Lavender oil is used in the production of high quality bath and beauty products as a disinfectant, an antiseptic, an anti-inflammatory and for aromatherapy. Lavender hydrosol is claimed to soothe and heal insect bites, sunburn and small cuts, burns and inflammatory conditions and even acne. Lavender oils are also used for internal medical conditions, among others indigestion and heartburn.
Lavender oil is said to soothe headaches, migraines and motion sickness when applied to the temples. It is frequently used as an aid to sleep and relaxation.
Dried Lavender flowers are used extensively as fragrant herbal filler inside sachets - to freshen linens, closets and drawers. As an air spray, it is used to freshen in practically any room. Dried lavender flowers have also become popular for use at weddings as decoration, gifts and as confetti for tossing over the newlyweds.
As a member of the mint family, Lavender has been used for centuries in culinary preparation either by itself or as an ingredient of Herbs de Province – an herb combination which captures the flavors of the sunny south of France.
Culinary lavender delivers a floral, slightly sweet and elegant flavor to salads, soups, meat and seafood dishes, desserts, cheeses, baked goods and confectionery. For most cooking applications it is the dried flowers that are used although the leaves may also be used. Only the buds or flowers contain the essential oil of Lavender which is where the scent and flavor are best derived.
Wherever and however Lavender is used in food preparation it extends beyond its familiar fragrance to a rich yet delicate flavor to host of recipes only limited by the imagination.