When I think of lavender, I think of wide open meadows, a deep breath of fresh air, a romantic gesture, soothing palettes and serenity. But until I encountered the lavender lemonade at Eatonville Restaurant nearly two years ago, I had never considered the culinary uses of this flower. At Eatonville, a venue themed after the life of Harlem Renaissance figure Zora Neale Hurston, this refreshing beverage is served up in mason jars with free floating dried lavender flowers. After trying and enjoying its regular lemonade and then its ginger lemonade along with the lavender one, I have concluded that the latter is my favorite.
On a recent shopping trip to Yes Organic Market, I spotted a jar labeled “dried lavender flowers” in the bulk herb section for the first time and purchased a few ounces with the intent of finally making it. I headed to the refrigerated juice aisle and found Newman’s Own Virgin Lemonade which has the words No High Fructose Corn Syrup in big letters across the top.
When we got home, I used a pestle and mortar to pound the dried lavender, transferred the lavender to an unbleached filter bag (because I didn’t think my daughters would like bits of dried flowers floating around in their glasses), poured the lemonade in a beautiful pitcher, added a little agave nectar to make it sweeter, and then steeped the lavender in it for a good 30 minutes while we prepared the rest of our meal.
Between the three of us, we drank the whole pitcher in one sitting and will likely make a hundred pitchers more before the summer of 2011 is over.
Try the recipe below and tell me what other twists on traditional lemonade you love or think might be good.
Paul and Levita’s Purple Lavender Lemonade
Newman’s Own Virgin Lemonade, 64oz carton
3 Tablespoons dried lavender
1-3 Tablespoons Madhava Agave Nectar or raw sugar (optional, depending on how sweet you want your lemonade)
Pour the carton of lemonade in a pitcher. Add the sweetener and stir to dissolve. Using a pestle and mortar, pound the three tablespoons of lavender. Add the pounded lavender to an unbleached Finum filter tea bag. Fold the bag closed and add to the pitcher. Let steep for 30 minutes or longer.
Chill and enjoy in clear glasses!
Also, I’m honored to be a guest blogger with Nature Conservancy for their upcoming Earth Day Celebration, Picnic for the Planet. Read my perspective on Eat(ing) Green and try my Fruit Sorbet for your next picnic!