Essential oils have become popular among natural healers and aromatherapists—and soon they may become the next big thing among chefs. Every time you chew gum, eat confectionary chocolates, and even brush your teeth, you are experiencing essential oils as flavoring agents. But many people don’t realize that they can also be used in everyday cuisine.
The potent oils, which protect plants from invading organisms and microbes and carry nutrients to the plant cells, are distilled from the flowers, fruit, seeds, stems, leaves, roots, and bark of aromatic plants and herbs. Used in moderate amounts, these oils may impart some therapeutic benefits—and taste fantastic. Unlike fatty oils such as olive oil, flax oil, and sesame oil, essential oils contain none of the glycerol molecules that give a characteristic slippery texture and leave a greasy residue. Distilled essential oils contain no fat.
When you’re cooking with essential oils, use only the highest-grade, organic oil without synthetic chemicals, SD40 alcohol, or propylene glycol. Because heat evaporates essential oils, stir them in at the end of the cooking time or once the dish has cooled. Very strong oils such as oregano, rosemary, and basil can withstand a little simmering.
—Adapted from The Essential Oil Cookbook: Outrageous Recipes for Weight Control and Long Life, by Menkit Prince. Available from Earth Love Enterprises,
(888) 217-1028; www.essentialoilcookbook.com.