Essential oils in the kitchen: how to choose them, dose them and use them in your recipes

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Elia Tabuenca García

Essential oils, we know them well as natural remedies and for aromatherapy, but these substances rich in beneficial properties also have other very interesting uses. In fact, essential oils are an ally in the kitchen to flavor dishes and drinks.

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Essential oils, we know them well as natural remedies and foraromatherapy, but these substances rich in beneficial properties also have other very interesting uses. In fact the essential oils I am an ally in the kitchen to flavor dishes and drinks.

The uses of essential oils in the kitchen give an extra touch to the most classic recipes, in order to personalize them. The important thing is to know which ones to choose for the different ones recipes, how to use them and in what quantities. We can therefore try to approach the art of cooking with essential oils.


How to choose the essential oils to use in the kitchen

In essential oils we find the concentrate of the aromatic part of the plant. They are mainly used for therapeutic use but in cooking we are especially interested in their aroma. We can subdivide the essential oils for use in cooking in 4 category:

1) Essential oils obtained from herbs: such as oregano, thyme and rosemary.
2) Essential oils obtained from spices,: such as cinnamon, ginger, anise and juniper.
3) Essential oils obtained from citrus fruits: as essential oil of lemon and orange.
4) Essential oils obtained from fiori: as essential oil of lavender or rose.

To introduce essential oils in the kitchen it is important to choose only natural and pure essential oils, guaranteed as suitable for food use. Contact your trusted herbalist and get advice on the best essential oils to buy in order to add a few drops in your recipes.

Under no circumstances should you take or use essential oils blindly.

These are very powerful products so you don't have to never overdo the doses, but stick to trustworthy recipes and keep in mind that they may be enough too only 1 or 2 drops of the essential oil chosen to flavor a dish or drink, since their flavor and aroma are very marked and persistent. Essential oils are natural but they are not harmless: that's why it is strictly necessary to add them to recipes with the utmost care and sparingly.

How to use essential oils in cooking

In order to best dose the essential oils in cooking remember that it can be very helpful to have a handy dropper. Better to choose a separate dropper rather than using bottles of essential oils with droppers on the cap. This is a useful suggestion not to overdo the doses of the product.

In any case, the drops of essential oils with which to enrich your recipes should not be added and then mixed to the dish as if it were a normal condiment. You have to follow very specific rules. Indeed essential oils they need a carrier to be able to blend well with your preparations.

For example, if you are preparing a dish to be dressed with extra virgin olive oil, you might think about flavoring your oil with essential oils before using it. In the same way, adding a few drops of essential oils you can also flavor the salt to add to your recipes (let's think of salt flavored with rosemary, for example) or sugar. Remember that essential oils are not water-soluble, but fat-soluble, that is, they do not dissolve in water but amalgamate with the fatty substances.

Among the cooking ingredients that you can aromatize with essential oils before adding them to your recipes we find honey, maple syrup, agave syrup and other liquid sweeteners, yogurt, cream, cow's butter and vegetable creams based on almonds, hazelnuts or other dried fruit.

Make sure that essential oils retain their aroma to the fullest. Do not add them during cooking, but afterwards, after turning off the stove - or when the stove is on a low flame - as you would for a normal seasoning. In this case, for example, you can choose as a condiment an extra virgin olive oil flavored with a few drops of essential oil of lemon, oregano or rosemary.

Flavor theextra virgin olive oil with essential oils citrus fruit or spices could be useful to season yours in a slightly different way than usual vegetable salads, but also cereal salads, such as rice salad orspelled salad. With essential oils, choosing the most suitable aromas according to your tastes, ice creams, puddings, custard and other desserts are also flavored. With essential oils you can also flavor mayonnaise, the chocolate creams and vinaigrette.

Doses of essential oils for flavoring

1) If you want to flavor a particular dish with a specific essential oil, remember not to exceed the dose of 1 drop per serving.

2) To flavor a normal jar of honey or other natural sweetener, such as rice malt or lo agave syrup, remember that only 1 drop of essential oil is enough. Flavoring natural sweeteners with essential oils will allow you to use them in drinks to flavor them in turn.

3) If you want to flavor it granulated sugar with essential oils, do not exceed the dose of 1 drop of essential oil for 50 grams of sugar.

4) For aromatize the extra virgin olive oil, or other oils you want to use in cooking, add a maximum of 4 drops of essential oils to 1 liter of oil.

5) Just 1 drop of essential oil is enough to flavor one home made mayonnaise or a custard prepared by you.

Remember to always dose at the minimum your essential oils. If you're new to experimenting, do some experimentation before serving a dish to your guests, to make sure you balance the flavors well and don't create overly flavourful dishes. Essential oils must enhance your dishes, they must not cover or hide their flavor. Finally, to learn more about the topic, we recommend reading the book “Essential oils in the kitchen” by Roberta Deiana (Tecniche Nuove).

Marta Albè

Read also:

Essential oils: 20 possible uses for the home, beauty and health

Aromatherapy: 10 essential oils to always have at home

Eco-cleaning with essential oils: how and which ones to use

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