Essential oils are a real surprise for the taste buds. Well known in the skin care field, they flavor salad dressings, casseroles or dessert with unpublished notes of flowers or herbs. Essential oils are tempting, but not always obvious to use. Here are some tips to use essential oils as a real chef!
1. The magic of essential oils
Madeleines with a rose fragrance rose, a lavender crème brûlée, ice cream with ylang-ylang… No, it’s not fairy tales recipes, but rather what you can do at home! What magic is this? Essential oils are trendy: they are used in the composition of fragrances and are the subject of culinary workshops. Abandon the idea that they are for the most experienced cooks: even beginners can get there.
2. What is an essential oil exactely
This is the essence naturally secreted by the plant, ether water-steam distilled or obtained by cold expression. Nothing to do with a common food flavoring from a chemical origin for the most part. And despite what their name suggests, it is not fat, since they contain no fatty acid. However, as oils, they do not mix with water.
3. What do they bring in the kitchen?
Essentially new flavors! Then, they have no season. We can flavor any dish with mint in winter!
4. What kind of dish can we use them for?
Essential oils can be used for any kind of dish: beverages, sauces, simmered meat, rice or pasta, milk puddings, cakes, olive oil, honey, herbal infusions… In terms of dosage, an essential oil is fifty times more concentrated than the whole plant, and is used in trace amounts of one drop per person or even per dish, and always in a diluted form (oil, cream, honey …). For casseroles, since there is a slight loss of flavor as a result of heat, it is better to add them at the end of preparation.
5. Is it good for health?
The essential oils have therapeutic properties: they stimulate the immune system, exert antimicrobial, antiviral, antiparasitic effects. Each has her then specific actions: anti-inflammatory for ginger, healing for the geranium, digestive with basil or bergamot, and invigorating for mint and rosemary. But be careful, do not confuse flavor and aroma. “Their punctual use in the kitchen, do not provide immunostimulatory effects, explains pharmacist Daniele Festy. However, in some recipes where you use one drop per person, for example, essential oils can have an antiseptic (lavender , thyme, rosemary) or sedative effect (neroli, bitter orange petitgrain), or help in the fight against the troubles of winter (cinnamon). Also, their flavor helps to prepare lighter sauces. All for zero calories.”
Only caution: ask for advices if you are pregnant as some essential oils are not recommended (savory, fennel …).
6. Is it expensive?
The cost of starting is a little high in some cases, but must be put in perspective. But with essential oils, there is no waste, as we use the right quantities. Not like the bunch of parsley that sleeps at the bottom of the fridge!
7. What if we are afraid of bad dosage?
One drop more than required, and your recipe can go directly to the trash. If you are a newbie, focus on smart products. Some essential oil flask use pinch systems, justlike salt. Thus, no risk of putting too much or rub your eyes with a moistened finger with essential oil of cinnamon which is dermo-caustic! There are also oils that are already diluted in sugar syrup or neutral oil. These mixes are instantly miscible in milk, a cake batter, salad dressing… it’s your turn!
8. Good associations with essential oils
- Peppermint (with): chocolate mousse, vinaigrette, glazed zucchini soup.
- Bergamot: candied fruit cake, shortbread, stewed pear or apricot.
- Lemon: yogurt, tagines, salad dressings, rice pudding, cakes.
- Geranium: Red fruit smoothie, clafoutis, cottage cheese with berries, rice pudding.
- Thyme: ratatouille, gazpacho, fish in foil.
- Lavender: crème brûlée, strawberry salad, blackberry jelly.
- Cardamom: soup or fruit salad, jam, black tea.
- Basil: pasta salad, tomato sauce, mashed potatoes, wok chicken.
- Grapefruit: 0% cottage cheese sauce, cream sauce for Saint-Jacques scallops.
- Cinnamon: custard, baked apples, stewed pears.
- Ylang-ylang: ice cream, custard, madeleines, fruit salad.
- Clary sage: pasta, white meat, boiled egg, fish.
9. Do you want to join the “essential” cuisine?
Blends of essential oils and plant, these organic preparations wake up soups, sauces and desserts.We can choose between single-flavors like Orange, cinnamon, Almond , Lavender, Lemon, Rosemary, and mixtures (Thai, tajine, masala etc).
The Magic of Essential Oils in Foods and Fragrance: This rather precious cookbook contains two kinds of recipes: those for food, and those for making fragrances, with the latter occasionally used in the former as well as to perfume the body. With a few exceptions, such as White Truffle and Blood Orange Solid Perfume, these sound lovely. However, preparation of both types is complex. The use of essential oils in place of the actual materials in food seems unnecessarily complicated (e.g., the suggestion that readers “add a few drops of cinnamon essential oil to melted butter, then use that butter to make cinnamon toast”).