Essential Oils in the Kitchen

If you use essential oils in your skin care, or in a diffuser to relax or create a mood, you may have read or been told that these oils are not to be ingested. That is true of many oils. But there are quite a few that you can use in your cooking or baking.

First, make sure that you use only fresh, therapeutic grade A oils. You want to be sure that the oils are the purest possible.

Also, it’s important to remember that essential oils are very, very concentrated; for example, two drops of an herbal essential oil will provide the same flavoring as an entire 2 ounce bottle of dried herbs. Obviously, you don’t need to use much – a drop, or even less – and this can save you money. But even though it doesn’t take much essential oil to add flavor to your recipe, it can be very easy to overdo things.

Since almost all bottles of essential oil have dropper tops, you may be wondering how to get less than a drop. All you need to do is dip a clean toothpick in the oil and then use what is on the toothpick; just make sure the toothpick doesn’t have so much oil on it that it creates its own drop! Or you can dilute a drop of essential with one or more drops of water or vegetable oil, and use a portion of that.

If you are using the essential oil at full strength through the bottle’s dropper top, don’t drop the oil directly into the recipe; if for some reason the oil comes out faster than you were expecting, your recipe will be ruined and you’ll have to start over. Instead, drop the oil onto a spoon first. That way you can be sure to get the exact amount you need.

There are other ways to cut down on the strength of the oil. You can dilute it in water or a vegetable oil (see above) before adding it to the recipe; you can make a larger recipe; or you can add the oil sooner in the cooking process. Normally it’s recommended that you wait to add essential oils until close to the end, because the heat of the cooking will cause them to evaporate; but if you need them to be weaker, you can add them sooner. This might be especially helpful for very strong oils like basil, oregano, and rosemary.

There are basically four different types of essential oils used in cooking and baking. Here are some examples:
– citrus – lemon, lime, grapefruit, and orange
– herbs – rosemary, sage, marjoram, peppermint, spearmint, and thyme
– spices – cumin, ginger, black pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove
– flowers – lavender, rose, geranium, and jasmine

And here are some of the foods you can flavor with essential oils:
– meats
– vegetables
– salad dressings
– marinades and sauces
– rice
– eggs
– pasta
– bread and pastries
– jellies and jams
– puddings and custards
– cake
– ice cream
– fruit

You can also add essential oils to some of the ingredients of your recipes. For example:
– Add essential oils to vegetable oil and cook with the vegetable oil.
– Add the oils to vinegar for salad dressings and sauces.
– Add the oils to softened butter or cream cheese.
– Add the oils to honey to make a syrup.

Not all essential oils can be used in the kitchen, but many can. As long as you don’t overdo it, essential oils can really enhance your recipes.

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