Cooking with Essential Oils

Cooking and Essential Oils have been a passion of mine. Several years ago I started working part time at Central Market (similar to Whole Foods). I thought they would put me in their healthy living section, but instead they needed help in their cooking school as a chef instructor. Several months after that, the cooking school manager asked several us would we like to teach a few classes. I immediately got excited about this prospect and started teaching how to use essential oils in cooking. Even after I left I continued to teach. Now at Gritman, Meg has designed the kitchen to create a small cooking school for seven students. I had my first class in the Fall of 2004. I continue to work on a cookbook that brings all my experiences together.

I wish there were more cookbooks that taught the effective use of essential oils especially with great recipes. The focus tends to be either esoteric diets or creating a good ambience while cooking or eating, but not actually using them in the food! A term Food-Grade Essential Oils has become popular in recent years. Some of the literature on this states you can hardly find them. These are suppose to be the best quality of essential oils. Surprisingly the commercial food industry tends to us a standardize, adulterated, cheaper quality essential oils . What I tend to use is Organic Citrus Oils and Premium, Kosher, or Organic from the Gritman line with other oils. Here is a little Dos and Don't's Sheet when cooking with oils.

Amy @ Gritman

Essential Oils can replace your fresh or dried herbs and spices. Essential Oils have a longer shelf life (like several years) and can be handy in the kitchen when you do not have either at your disposal.

1) Store essential oils in dark glass containers in a cool environment even refrigerate them if your kitchen tends to be a hot environment. Extreme heat and light can destroy the aroma and beneficial effects of the oils.

2) Avoid touching the insert with your finger. Your natural oils may affect the composition of the oil.

3) Each oil has a different viscosity so practice dropping with each oil at a 45-degree angle before cooking.

4) Keep lids on as much as possible. Essential oils are extremely volatile and oxidize quickly which may change the oil.

5) Strong oils such as (Rosemary, Sage, Basil, Oregano) may need to be diluted in a cooking oil or water. 1 to 2 drops per ¼ cup. Experiment with the desired concentrations.

6) Be careful on the drops of an essential oil. It is helpful to drop essential oils on a spoon then into recipe to avoid to many drops. One drop can be great two drops could be overwhelm especially for dishes that are cooked or baked.

7) Keep out of reach of children. These are highly concentrated substances and need to be used with caution.

8) If want to keep the taste of your essential oil strong and vibrant add it towards the end. For a more subtle taste, use it in the actual cooking process. Essentials are just like herbs to keep the freshness you add them last.

Sweet Savory Citrus Spice
Sweet Fennel Basil Grapefruit Black Pepper
Lemongrass Dill Lemon Clove
Peppermint Oregano Lime Ginger
Spearmint Rosemary Orange Nutmeg
  Sage Lemon Verbena Cumin
  Thyme   Cardamom