Last week, I posted a little about the fake and articial flavorings used in our food. Now days, we are so use to the flavor of the fake, we don’t often appreciate the flavor of the real! I think a good way to perhaps start changing that, would be to start using real essential oils from plants to flavor our foods.
Essential oils may seem new, but they have actually been used for hundreds of years! Essential oils are highly concentrated oils extracted from plants. They are basically the essence of plants! The art of distilling the oils from plants reaches back to ancient times and the first mention of using essential oils for medicine comes from medieval Spain. But people have been flavoring their food with these essential oils from plants for much longer.
The most common question now days about essential oils is if they are safe to eat? They are probably much safer to eat than the chemical flavorings that we use now days! Essential oils are the pure extract of plants and so often have no added preservatives or chemicals. Often, they come with added health benefits too, like boosting our immune systems and fighting cancer and viruses. As long as the essential oil is pure, from a reputable company and labled as food grade or safe for internal use, you can use them as much as you want in your cooking and baking!
Since essential oils are so very highly concentrated, a good rule of thumb to remember is that a little goes a very long way! The oils are meant to flavor the dish, not overwhelm it. Try adding some lemon essential oil to your blueberry muffins. Or a drop or two of thyme essential oil on fish. Cinnamon and clove are wonderful for perking up holiday dishes. Stir some into your favorite sauce. (Chocolate and orange anyone?!) Add a drop of lavender essential oil to hot tea. Try out a few essential oils and see what you like!