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cooking with essential oilsIt took me a while to become more comfortable and more brave in cooking with essential oils.  I love how they support the health of everyone in my family, but didn’t know where to start in terms of adding them to our food.  Now I use them frequently and love the flavor they bring.  Where dried herbs and spices look at bit sad and lifeless, essential oils are packed with vibrancy.  Their health-giving benefits are in tact, not dried out, faded or diluted in any way.  Just remember, a little bit goes a long way!

Here are some ideas and practical tips:

Citrus oils – oils such as wild orange, lemon, lime and grapefruit can be used in main dishes, desserts and drinks (including cocktails, but you didn’t hear that from me!).  1 drop of a citrus oil substitutes for about 1 teaspoon of citrus zest – remember, the oil comes from the rind of the fruit, not the pulp, so it’s not quite the same as citrus juice.

Sweet spice oils – oils such as cinnamon, cassia, fennel, ginger, peppermint and spearmint are best used in sweet dishes and desserts.  Cinnamon and cassia are quite similar but I like the flavor of cinnamon better.  1 drop of cinnamon would replace a full tablespoon of ground cinnamon!  Mint oils are really good in drinks too – spearmint is a little milder than peppermint.

Savory spice oils – these are my favorites to cook with!  Oils such as basil, black pepper, cardamom, coriander, dill, thyme and rosemary are great in many different savory dishes.  I add them to everything from stir fry to pesto to tomato-based pasta sauces and on the odd occasion we make mashed potatoes, I’ll put them in there too.  I’ve been known to add cilantro and/ or lemongrass to Thai take-away food too!

Here are a few tips to remember:-

  • Oils will tend to get stronger the longer they are on/ in the food.  So you might want to add the oil just before serving.  When we make apple slices with cinnamon oil, or almonds with rosemary oil, we put a drop of oil in a single serving size just beforehand, rather than making a whole jarful and storing them that way.
  • A general rule of thumb is to substitute 1 drop of oil for 1-2 teaspoons of dried herb or spice; and 1 drop of oil for 1-2 tablespoons of fresh herb or spice.
  • If you feel that a full drop might be too much, dip a toothpick in the oil and stir it in the dish you are preparing.
  • Start with a tiny bit – you can always add more, but too much oil in any dish can overwhelm it!
  • Use glass or stainless steel mixing bowls rather than plastic as oils can erode some plastics.

Remember, start slow, and as you get more comfortable you’ll get more creative in how you utilize your essential oils in your cooking!