There's truckloads of supporting evidence for why both essential oils and herbs support a healthy lifestyle. We all know that herbs are good for us, when used in the appropriate amounts. They promote healthy living, aid in the prevention of disease and illness, and can even be used to beautify your skin and hair. Unfortunately, you don't hear a lot about essential oils in today's media even though there are some very compelling benefits to essential oils beyond what herbs can offer.
Few would dispute that fresh herbs are immensely beneficial. They've been a powerful force in maintaining health since the beginning of time. But while herbs have their benefits, they also have an incredibly short shelf life, seasonal restrictions, and are expensive considering their usable cooking life and flavor quality. Fresh herbs also carry a greater risk of biological contamination i.e. – E coli; and often the plants are damaged by handling or processing on the way to the customer. This further reduces the health benefits, flavor, and shelf life of fresh herbs.
To prolong the life of fresh herbs and avoid the seasonal restrictions, many plants are dried. While drying herbs has increased their use and brought more awareness to the benefits of herbs, there is a cost. Once the plant is dried it loses all but 3-5 percent of the essential oils it once contained. Since essential oils are the key ingredient in fresh herbs and are responsible for the plants vibrant cooking flavors and medicinal healing powers, drying herbs dramatically decreases their healthful effectiveness.
In comparison, essential oils are extracted from the plant, usually the fresh herbs, through pressing or distilling and are bottled immediately. This process extracts the components of the fresh herbs that made them so beneficial for health and flavor while eliminating shelf life restrictions and all of the biological contamination risks. And since essential oils are so concentrated, it takes far less to deliver the same results as fresh or dried herbs. In cooking, a single drop of an essential oil can do the same herbal heavy lifting as 1 full ounce of dried herbs.
So now imagine the most beneficial parts of a fresh herb extracted, conveniently placed in liquid form, and bottled with no expiration date. That’s the power of cooking with essential oils.
If your interested in how to get started cooking with essential oils check out both our Edible Essential Oils article and our recipes section. You could also send us an email, we love to hear your ideas and questions.