On busy school nights, I admit that preparing supper can be a challenge. I am always looking for short cuts and neat ways to shave time off my food prep and clean up. There is a fancy grocery store in my area and, after school, we go in to buy some fresh bread for dinner. Often, there are tasting tables. In particular, there is a tasting table for oils and vinegars. And, my kids and I cannot stay away.The oils are straight from Italy, first cold-pressed, Extra Virgin, infused – you get the picture. In the last few years, we have been buying lemon oil and tasting grapefruit or mandarin oils. We come home, cut up the fresh bread and dip away into these delicious oils.
One night, I was making fingerling potatoes to make a potato salad and I decided to add some lemon oil and salt pepper instead of making a classic potato salad. Everybody loved the simple dish and clean taste of the potatoes with lemon oil. Next were green beans, blanched and then drizzled with lemon oil and salt. Yum! Easy! On trend with a healthy lifestyle!
So, I decided to do a bit of research into flavored oils. There’s a lot to choose from and to understand. If you notice, one of the comments on my first post was from someone who recommended putting a few drops of essential lemon oil into the carrot cake to flavor it, rather than zesting lemons. Why hadn’t I ever thought of that? But what is an essential oil? How is it different from the stuff I was buying?
I called up Boyajian Inc to get the scoop. Boyajian Inc is a family owned award-winning company out of Boston that produces infused oils, pure citrus oils, vinegars, and extracts and sells them in the US and other countries, including Canada. They explained some key points to me:
Pure lemon oil is basically an essential oil in that it is the purest form of the oil. ‘Essential’ means it is the ‘essence’ of the fruit. Boyajian uses the removed rinds from lemons and cold-presses them to get the oil out. This oil is very strong and has a somewhat bitter taste. You cannot eat or drink this oil or even cook with it straight: it must be diluted with another oil like canola or EVOO at the ratio of about ¼ tsp to one cup of oil or other wet mixing ingredients. You can then drizzle the oil over salads or vegetables. You can use it in baking, too.
Boyajian explained that 80% of people who purchase pure lemon oil use it to bake with or make chocolate. Pure oils don’t cause chocolate to cease the way extracts might. For my carrot cake, I would probably put in about ½ of a teaspoon of pure lemon oil. In this way, you can use it almost like you would use vanilla extract.
Infused lemon oil is not the same thing as essential or pure lemon oil. Infused oils contain lemon extracts or drops of essential oil that flavor a canola or EVOO or other stabilizer. Infused oils therefore cost about a quarter of the price of pure or essential oils and can be used like you would use other simple oils. In other words, you can drizzle infused oil straight out of the bottle as a salad dressing.
I hope you will consider flavoring simple vegetables or salads with either a bit of pure lemon oil mixed with your favorite oil, or, a lemon infused oil. Of course, there are lots of other citrus oils to try like lime, orange, grapefruit…let me know what you try and how you use it.Email This Post