Cooking with Essential Oils

chocolate cupcake free of everything

Image courtesy of Christa at flickr.com

Essential oils are very useful for helping with health concerns or making your house clean and germ free. But did you know that they can also be used in cooking? The oils are highly concentrated so there are wrong ways and right ways to cook with essential oils. Here are guidelines and safety instructions for adding them to your recipes.

The most important factors are moderation and dilution. You may only need to use one drop of a strong oil (such as basil, black pepper, ginger or oregano). Mildly flavored oils, including citrus ones, can take a heavier hand. For ease of blending them into your food, dilute them with a fat (e.g. butter, cooking oil or even honey) to help disperse the oils. You can add the essential oils to your recipe once they are fully mixed into the diluting substance.

Other tips are to drip oils onto a spoon first so you can control how much goes into your food. You can also place the end of a wooden toothpick into the essential oil bottle so that you only get a tiny amount. Then stir the toothpick end into your diluting substance. This works well if you wish to add a dab of flavor to something like cupcake frosting.

More ideas are to add the essential oil in its diluent near the end of cooking. Essential oils are volatile and if added at the start of a long-cooking dish, stew for example, they will evaporate before they can flavor the food. Also, using organic or wild-harvested oils are best because pesticides can become more concentrated in an essential oil.

To inspire you, here is a recipe from a foodie Aromatherapist friend, Kris Wrede of Kismet Potions:

Honey Goat Cheese with Mesquite Honey & Pomegranate Seeds
One log of Trader Joe’s honey goat cheese or sub regular soft goat cheese (for a vegan option try Kite Hill brand of vegan cream cheese and shape into a roll)
One fresh pomegranate or one bag of TJ’s dried pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup Mesquite honey or regular honey
Take 15 drops orange essential oil and 8 drops cardamom essential oil and thoroughly mix into the honey. Artfully arrange the pomegranate seeds all over the honey goat cheese, then pour mesquite or orange blossom honey over the cheese. Put on a festive plate and add crackers.

Bon appetit!