Using Essential Oils with Food
Did you know that many of the foods we buy are flavoured with essential oils? For example, peppermint tea gets its flavour from peppermint essential oil. There’s no reason we can’t use our essential oils to flavour our food at home as well!
You can enjoy a powerful punch of flavour when you use essential oils in cooking, and it’s a convenient option when you don’t have access to a fresh ingredient that you need. In some cases, you may even save money by using essential oils to flavour food, since they are so concentrated and you needs such a small amount, plus you don’t have to worry about ingredients going bad if you don’t use them quick enough.
What Essential Oils can I use in Cooking?
Generally, if the oil is from a plant that can be consumed for food, you will be ok to use it in food, but it is always a good idea to check the label on the bottle to make sure. If it says “For Flavouring Use” you can use it, just make sure you don’t exceed the dose listed on the label to avoid toxicity.
How can I use Essential Oils in Cooking
When it comes to using essential oils for flavouring your food, you can be quite creative! They can be added to drinks, desserts, soups, meat, bread... Pretty much whatever you want to try them with!
Here are some ideas to try:
Citrus 🍊: These oils add a sweet refreshing pop to drinks and baking, but can also flavour yogurt, dips and salsa. If a recipe calls for a citrus zest, you can substitute a few drops of the oil instead. Some common citrus oils are Lemon, Lime, Wild Orange, Grapefruit, Tangerine and Bergamot
Spices 🌱: Spices are great if you want to boost the flavour of a dish, such as vegetables, meat marinades and other savoury dishes. Cinnamon and Cassia are great for sweet recipes like baking and breakfast foods. Spices can be quite strong, so only a tiny bit is needed! Some common spices include Black Pepper, Cassia, Cinnamon, Coriander, Ginger and Fennel
Herbs 🌿: Using fresh and dried herbs has been popular for centuries. You can substitute your herbs with essential oils as well. They are great for Italian dishes, soups, breads, pasta, potatoes, meat marinades and more. Some common herbs to use are Basil, Coriander, Marjoram, Oregano, Rosemary and Thyme
Florals 🌹: Florals aren’t used all that commonly in cooking, but they can add an unexpected twist to flavour desserts like cookies and cakes, and also in tea. They are often more sweet and can soften citrus flavours to give more balance. Some common floral oils you can try are Lavender and Geranium
Mints 🌿: This is another common flavourite to use for drinks (mmm, mojitos!), desserts, salads and certain meats like lamb and chicken. It can mix well with other herbs in your dishes as well. They are quite strong, so don’t forget to only use a tiny amount! Some common minty oils are Peppermint and Spearmint
Tips & Tricks for Cooking with Essential Oils
Here are a few tips & tricks to make the most of cooking with essential oils:
Heat can evaporate essential oils, so if you are adding them to a hot dish, add them at the end once it has been removed from the heat to retain the most flavour. If you can’t add them at the end of cooking, you will need to add a larger amount of the oil
Avoid putting essential oils in plastic containers, as the oils can damage some types of plastic. It is best to stick with glass, ceramic or stainless steel
The amount you use will vary based on your personal taste preferences, whether you are substituting for fresh or dried ingredients and the number of servings you are making, so you may need to experiment to see what you life best
It is a good idea to start with less essential oil and build up if you need more. For strong oils, you can dip a toothpick into the bottle and stir it through the meal, then taste it and see if you need more. Remember, you can always add more oil, but once you’ve added it, you can’t take it back!
Essential oils such as Cassia, Cinnamon, Clove, Cumin, Thyme and Oregano are extremely strong, so they should be used with the toothpick method
If you add too much oil to a dish by accident, try to leave the dish simmering a bit to simmer out some of the essential oil
Always add your essential oil to a spoon before adding to the dish. That way if too much comes out by accident, you don’t overpower the whole dish
When you are cooking with essential oils, always make sure you are following safety precautions to prevent any adverse reactions.
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