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Many people overlook the fact that major flavouring industries use essential oils as an economic way to add flavour to commercially prepared foods, drinks and toiletries such as toothpaste. Hence we already ingest tiny amounts of essential oil.
Oils are an easy method of obtaining a desired taste. They are easy to store and retain their potency for longer periods of time compared to ground spices.
Many home cooks can enjoy similar advantages when cooking with essential oils. The characteristic flavour and odour of most cooking spices is found in their essential oil content. For example –don’t have ginger on the spice shelf? Add one drop or two of ginger essential oil instead. Using them is a simple way also to add flavour without adding calories or extra ingredients.
However it is important to remember that essential oils are extremely potent. They must always be used sparingly. Be extremely careful as not all essential oils are suitable for consumption. Always check the suitability of the oil to be used.
Having essential oils in your pantry is like having a herb garden in constant full bloom, except the access is easier. Essential oils perfectly capture the essence of the living plant, in both aroma and flavour and are many times more potent than fresh or dried herbs. They can be used to good effect – in small quantities! – in baking or cooking – anything liquid in which the oil can be dispersed so it won’t concentrate in one place.
There are basically five different types of essential oils used in cooking and baking: Tangy (citrus as in lemon, sweet orange, grapefruit, lime), spicy (nutmeg, clove, ginger, aniseed), floral (geranium, chamomile, rose, lavender, neroli petals), herbaceous (rosemary, marjoram, white thyme) and mint (peppermint).
It’s a good idea to use only one or two drops of an essential oil, and taste before adding more, since they are very strong. Also, a good tip is to dip a toothpick into the essential oil bottle and then swirl the toothpick in your recipe when a smaller amount of flavouring Here are some ways to use essential oils in cooking and food preparation:
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