It is believed that essential oils were first extracted from plants by the ancient Egyptians, approximately 6,000 years ago. Since that time, the known benefits of essential oils have continued to grow. Some people use essential oils for their health benefits, while others use them to keep their houses clean and sterile. Also, let us not forget that thousands of people purchase essential oils to simply enjoy the smell of their pleasant fragrances.
A fourth benefit of essential oils comes when they are used for cooking. However, before adding them to a food or beverage, be sure that you have a top quality essential oil. Quite simply, essential oils are oils extracted from plants. A number of methods are used to extract essential oils, however steam distillation produces the highest quality essential oils. Removing the oil essence of a plant with steam allows the oil to remain completely pure while retaining its natural properties. Avoid using essential oils that were extracted with harsh chemicals or alcohol solvents, like SD40 alcohol, carbon dioxide and propylene glycol.
Essential oils may come from any number of various plants and plant parts. Common plant parts from which essential oils are extracted, include: flower pedals, seeds, stems, leaves, roots and even bark.
The flavors of essential oils encompass a range as wide as their known benefits. Citrus oils, such as lemon, orange, tangerine, grapefruit, mandarin and lime, are tangy. More traditional cooking ingredients also produce the following essential oils: cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, ginger, black pepper, oregano, basil, dill, rosemary, sage, tarragon and cumin. While some essential oils, like peppermint and spearmint, have a minty taste. Please remember that essential oils are the extracted essence of plants. Therefore, they have an extremely concentrated flavor and can impact a drink or food dish with as little as one or two drops.
These oils also differ from traditional cooking oils like olive oil or sesame oil, in two dramatic ways. First, they do not contain glycerol. Because of this, they do not posses a slippery feel and do not leave a “greasy” residue on things they touch. Second, distilled essential oils do not contain any fat or cholesterol.
It is also important to point out that using essential oils in your kitchen, may actually save you money. Typically, the citrus oils are quite inexpensive. Instead of spending money on whole lemons for water or tea, use one or two drops of lemon oil or spearmint oil. Essential oils are extremely stable and will last for many years when stored in a cool, dry, dark place, like a pantry.
Because tastes preferences are unique to each individual, it will be necessary to experiment with essential oil flavors and quantities that are perfect for your pallet. To help speed up this experimental process, the following general guidelines are offered. Just don’t forget to let your nose help guide you.
Meats: 1 drop of essential oil per 1 Tablespoon of vegetable oil. Apply with a brush.
Vinegars & Salad oils: 1 drop of essential oil per teaspoon of vegetable oil.
Steamed vegetables: 1 drop of essential oil per 12 ounces of water.
Desserts: add 1 drop of essential oil to egg mixtures.
You may also want to try using essential oils in various combinations, when preparing certain dishes.
1 drop Orange essential oil
1 drop Nutmeg essential oil
1 drop Cinnamon leaf essential oil
Make a marinade of: and let soak ½ hour or store until needed.
4 Tbsp Honey
1 wine glass of white wine or apple cider
2 drops of Orange essential oil
2 drops of Lemon essential oil
Combine 1 drop of Fennel essential oil, 1 drop of Black Pepper essential oil and 1 drop of Lime essential oil with 1 Tbsp olive oil and brush onto fish. Add oiled fish to the following marinade and let soak for at least 3 hours.
1 cup white wine
1 crushed clove garlic
1 small onion diced
For best results, when possible, add the essential oil after the cooking process has been completed. Also try adding essential oil to batters before allowing the batter to set overnight.
When baking breads, cakes, cookies, pies or making pudding, try adding cinnamon, nutmeg, orange, lemon, spearmint, ginger, coriander and fennel.
When making stuffing, vegetables, dressings, fish and poultry try adding thyme, oregano, sage, marjoram, rosemary, dill, basil and tarragon.
Happy cooking and don’t forget to share your successful experiments with your friends and relatives!
Cooking With Essential Oils