I love to use essential oils for all kind of things, so when I learned that I could cook with them, I got pretty excited!
Essential oils are naturally found in the plants that we eat. They have a very long shelf life and they never get moldy, plus they are packed with potent health benefits and antioxidants.
Since essential oils deliver the purest flavors possible, that means something that we can all consider music to our ears; lots of flavor - without the added calories, carbs, or sugars that you may be trying to avoid.
If you don't know where to begin, know that cooking with essential oils isn't hard. There are just a few things that you will want to remember...
You may notice that I try to add essential oils to recipes as late as possible in the cooking process, usually once the food has had a chance to cool slightly or is at least removed from the heat source.
This is because extreme heat can damage the delicate chemical constituents in the essential oils, and though this may not affect flavor, it can destroy the many benefits of some essential oils.
In the beginning when I first started cooking with essential oils, I would just drop 'em on in. This resulted in several bites not getting any essential oil at all... and then, POP! The essential oil flavor in all its potency showed up in one, single bite.
You can avoid this by first whisking the essential oils into a carrier oil, such as olive oil, then thoroughly stir the oil mixture into your recipe.
Trust me on this part!
Lastly, essential oils are extremely potent.
I typically dilute essential oils in about a teaspoon of olive oil before adding to a recipe, but this will depend on the recipe. Feel free to use a tablespoon or two if the recipe already calls for olive oil, such as in a vinaigrette.
You can use this handy conversion chart to substitute the actual ingredient in place of the essential oil. (The reverse can also hold true, if you want to use essential oils in place of actual herbs, this charts works for that, too!)
Just a quick note:
When cooking with citrus flavors, if you don't have the essential oil, use the zest of the fruit instead of the juice. The zest is where the essential oils in citrus fruits are located, and it also contains less (or in some cases - none) of the acids or other stuff that can aggravate allergies or cause stomach upset. (Just make sure you don't zest the white pith beneath because it tends to be bitter.)
The most important thing to remember when cooking with essential oils is that there are no hard and fast rules; just have fun with it!