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|Cooking With Aromatheraphy Oils
A renaissance in the arena of food preparation is about to emerge. It is the exciting and innovative art of combining essential oils with food.
Essential oils in food products is not an alien concept. Food flavoring industry has been using Essential oils as "natural flavoring" on a wide scale. Essential oils produced in barrels, not only retain their strength, but also grow stronger year by year without spoiling. Dried herbs, however, lose their potency after a year, are subject to insect and rodent infestation, and take up to a hundred times more space. One drop of essential oil is equal to one to two teaspoons of powdered herb.
Herbs were originally used in food not to increase flavor, but to increase digestion and preservation. Similarly, Essential oils can be used for many productive qualities apart from being Carminative.
Research findings recommends using therapeutic-grade essential oils in food preparation as they purify the body, enhance the immune system and generate endorphins (mood-elevators). Not only that, pure essential oils can improve circulation and oxygenation and protect against heart disease, dementia and cancer. Flavoring with health is a concept that`s appealing more and more even to a housewife keen on health of the family!
Unlike fatty oils such as olive oil, mustard oil, sesame oil, groundnut oil, soybean oil, etc., essential oils contain no glycerol molecules that give a characteristic slippery texture and leave a greasy residue. Fatty oils and essential oils are different. Distilled essential oils contain no fat, whereas fatty oils are 100% fat. Instead, essential oils are composed of hundreds of different molecules that are antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic and immune stimulating.
The essential oils for Sweet flavors are Fennel, Geranium, Lemongrass, Peppermint, Rose and Rose wood.
For Savory flavors are Basil, Dill, Oregano, Rosemary and Sage.
Citrus flavored essential oils are Grapefruit, lemon, Lime, Mandarin, Orange, Tangerine.
Aromatheraphy Oils imparting Spicy flavors are Black pepper, Nutmeg, Ginger, Cinnamon and Clove.
When cooking hot foods, such as soups, it is best to add the aromatheraphy oils at the last possible moment in order to avoid losing the volatile essentials into the air. Some oils, however, are too strong and it is better to simmer them a little (e.g. oregano, Rosemary, basil).
Tradition of using herbs to gain aromatherapy benefits can be more effectively replaced by essential oils. Some of the Common use of Essential oils while preparing day-to-day food is:
Angelica has been traditionally used in the making of liquor. A member of the celery family, it can be used in soups.
Anise (Patli Saunf) has been traditionally used in few liquors. Because of its ability to decongest and cool the liver, it would seem a particularly healthy way to drink alcohol. It can also be used to flavor desserts, in fruit leather and in drinks.
Basil (Tulsi) may be used in soups, pesto, spaghetti sauce and vegetable dishes. One to two drops per pint.
Bay (Tejapatta) may be used in soups, one drop per pint.
Cardamom (Elaichi) is used traditionally in desserts, especially cookies, and coffee; one drop per cup of coffee or cup of flour.
Cinnamon (Dalchini) may be added to cookies, pancakes, drinks, tea, or in yogurt, one drop per pint.
Black pepper (kaali mirch) can be used on eggs, one drop per egg; in stews and soups, one drop per pint; salad dressings, one drop per cup.
Clove (Laung) can be used in cakes, pies, cookies and teas.
Coriander (Dhania) for salad dressings, soups, desserts, beans and curries.
Cumin (Jeera) can be used with beans, curries, breads, salsas and peas.
Dill finds special use in salad dressings soups and stews.
Fennel (Saunf) is for desserts and soups.
Ginger (Adrak) can be added to lemonade, drinks, teas, soups, curries and breads.
Grapefruitoil finds its use in drinks and pancakes.
Juniper may be used with vegetables, one drop per cup; also in fermenting sauerkraut or pickling vegetables.
Lavender is used extensively in France as a seasoning in soups and vegetables
Lemon (Nimbu) has use in drinks, desserts, ice creams, cakes, liquors and pancake.
Lemongrass is a favorite in Thai food, and for curries (especially coconut curry soup).
Marjoram may be added to soups, salads and dressings.
Nutmeg (Jayphala) for desserts and lasses: equal parts of yogurt and water blended with seasonings and fruits.
Orange (Santara) can be used in drinks, desserts, and pancakes.
Parsley (Ajavayana) for soups, breads, cheese and salad dressings.
Peppermint (Pudina) is especially good for desserts, cookies, drinks and candies.
Rosemary for sauces, stews, poultry dishes.
Sage with poultry, salad dressings, soups and sauces.
Tangerine can be used in drinks, desserts, and candies.
Thyme is especially good in soups and stew and with vegetables.
Turmeric (Haldi) with curries, sauces and vegetables.
Vanilla in candies, custards, pancakes and cakes.
Apart from using a few drops (one or two drops are more than enough) in our daily diet, essential oils can also be used for preparing medicated ghee. In India, certain herbs are mixed with the ghee, kept for few days and then herbs are strained out. Same properties can be obtained by mixing essential oils to the ghee, and then using it externally or internally accordingly.
Some oils have toxic components; for instance, nutmeg oil contains Myristicin and elemicin, which are psychotropic. However, taken in moderate amounts (a few drops per person) there is no toxic effect. In fact the LD50 (lethal dose for half the population) for an average adult would be 100ml of nutmeg oil. For flavoring purposes, no one in their right mind would use so much!
Moderation is the key while using essential oils. Also, one should be informed about the toxicity level of each oil.
Some oils in aromatherapy recipes can be irritating if used directly on mucous membranes (cinnamon, lemongrass) but mixed evenly with food will pose no problems.
Only high qualities oils should be used. One must be cautious against synthetic imitations. Oils should be organic (especially citrus oils, since citrus fruit may be sprayed with pesticides) and distilled at low temperatures with low pressure so that the oil is not fractured or burned and all the chemical constituents are extracted, giving a full-bodied, authentic taste.