Essential Oils Add Flavor and Scent to Recipes

By / Photography By Pamela Parks | March 15, 2016
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essential oils
Veronica Ripp, owner of Get Real Café.

Careful Use of These Natural Extracts Add Flavor and Scent to Recipes

Essential oils are not just relegated to topical application or massage therapy; food-grade essential oils can add flavor to recipes and bottles of drinking water. Whether to improve the taste of food or to reap the health benefits, the use of essential oils is currently a hot topic.

Although it seems the use of essential oils has piqued the interest of many now, they have a long history of being used by many cultures around the world. There are dozens of references to essential oils in the Bible including the presentation of frankincense, myrrh and gold to the Baby Jesus.

In Egypt, essential oils were discovered in alabaster jars in King Tut’s tomb and were often used in the embalming process. Ayurveda, a traditional Indian medicine with a 3,000-year history, used essential oils as an ingredient in healing elixirs. The Greek physician Hypocrites, the Father of Medicine, studied hundreds of plants and their effects. And, the use of aromatic oils was recorded in ancient Chinese medical texts.

So, why the renewed interest in essential oils now? Veronica Ripp, owner of the Get Real Café at 116 S. Madison Avenue in Sturgeon Bay, believes that people are starting to educate themselves for many reasons, one of which is that they do not want the side effects that come with pharmaceutical use.

Ripp’s own use of essential oils started with a toothache. “I had just opened the café and a customer gave me a sample bottle of clove oil … and I will be darned if it didn’t work. Then I went to a different chiropractor who uses essential oils and she really educated me a lot of the human body and how it works … now I use them daily,” Ripp said.

“More people are using them because it puts health into their own hands,” said Suzan Macco, RN, Certified Natural Health Professional, and digestive health specialist at her clinic Nurse For Health in Green Bay. “People are becoming disenchanted with the medical community because of all the drugs and side effects. There is not much healing with that and people are looking for other ways to heal.”

“Essential oils are easy to obtain, natural, and are not expensive … and gives them an opportunity to help with their own health and wellness,” said Macco, who is also an Independent Wellness Advocate for doTerra, an essential oil company.

Ripp, a Door County native and a 2005 graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in Atlanta is also an Independent Wellness Advocate for doTerra. When Ripp prepares locally-grown food that tastes good and is good for you, she often incorporates doTerra’s food grade essential oils into recipes and smoothies at her restaurant.

“I use them … in things that are cold. If you cook with essential oils, you cook out the nutritional value,” Ripp said. She adds cilantro and lime essential oils to fresh salsa, lemon essential oil to hummus and uses Rosemary essential oil in the Rosemary mayo, a house favorite. Only a drop or two is needed per recipe as the flavor is highly concentrated. For example, Ripp said, one drop of peppermint oil is equivalent to 28 cups of peppermint tea. So a word of caution — use sparingly.


Essential oils are technically not oils at all as they do not contain fatty acids. They are highly concentrated products distilled from plants. A very large amount of plant material produces a small amount of essential oil, which is why they are potent.

Essential oils for cooking are found in four categories: herbs, spices, citrus fruits and flowers. They can add flavor to salad dressings, sauces, soups, marinades and more. Others use essential oils to flavor baked goods and desserts such as cookies, cakes, breads, ice cream and to flavor hot or cold teas.

A good place to start with essential oils for anyone who is not familiar with them is with a starter kit. Macco recommends a packaged set called the Family Physician Kit that includes 10 commonly used essential oils. Another choice to consider is a smaller Starter Kit with lemon, lavender and peppermint oils and instructions on how to use them.

There are many useful and easy ways to incorporate uses for essential oils, explained Macco. “Lemon helps with cleaning … and is a great detoxifier for body if you put a drop in your water. Peppermint is great for pain and headaches. Apply one drop on the roof of the mouth or on the temple. It can also be used to freshen breath, can be mixed with carrier oil (such as coconut, olive, almond or grape seed oil) and applied topically for joint pain,” Macco said. “Lavender is soothing and helps relax you or helps you to go to sleep. You can put it on cuts and it smells good in home-made products and lotions.”


Using essential oils in food is not without controversy. Some medical advice warns against the practice. Since the industry is not regulated by the Federal government, people must use caution and do plenty of research.

“There is some controversy about ingesting essential oils. I go by the recommendations of the company I use. The products are pure and they guarantee that,” said Macco, who has practiced natural health for 17 years. “There is a difference between companies and you have to do your homework so you feel comfortable about using their products.”

Ripp agrees that it is important to use food grade essential oils from a reputable company and to look on the bottle for nutritional facts that indicate it is safe to ingest. If the nutritional facts are not on the bottle, put it down and do not put it into your body.

In addition to carefully selecting essential oils, use essential oils sparingly. One drop—or less—goes a long way. One drop of an essential oil made from an herb or spice is the equivalent of a teaspoon of the dried herb or spice in many cases. Because of the concentrated strength of essential oils such as rosemary, marjoram, thyme and oregano, it is recommended to dip a toothpick into the essential oil to stir into the recipe right before serving.

Macco’s last bit of advice, take charge of your own health and do not do anything you are not comfortable with.

“If they are uncomfortable about ingesting the oils, then don’t do it. For myself, I don’t really enjoy putting lemon or wild orange essential oil in my water. I prefer organic lemon juice you buy in the store,” Macco said. “To each his own.”

Kayla Wilke
Kayla Wilke of Apple Blossom Goods.

Using natural scents makes perfect sense: Apple Blossom Goods

Sometimes it is the simple things that work the best. Kayla Wilke, a stay-at-home mom who wanted to do the right thing for herself and her family created a line of natural body care products out of safety concerns regarding chemicals in the products found on most stores’ shelves.

“I was struggling with finding a deodorant that worked and was safe,” Wilke said. She did some research and went to work in her own kitchen with a simple three-ingredient recipe that included essential oil.

“I was impressed with the way it worked, I knew what the ingredients were, and it was safe and effective,” Wilke said. After sharing gifts of her products with delighted friends and family, Wilke launched Apple Blossom Goods.

Several products include high quality therapeutic- grade essential oils. The all-natural and organic deodorant (except for the raw, which has no scent) is scented with the essential oils of either lavender and tea tree, grapefruit (Wilke’s original scent) or cypress (a spicy unisex option).

“I chose those oils because they have such strong antibacterial and antifungal qualities,” Wilke said.

Apple Blossom Goods Vapor Rub also includes essential oils (eucalyptus, peppermint, and rosemary) for a soothing application for colds and muscle aches.

Apple Blossom Goods can be found in three stores in Door County: a full menu at Sourced on Third Avenue in Sturgeon Bay, at the Healthy Way Market in Sturgeon Bay and The Patricia Shoppe in Egg Harbor. Visit the Apple Blossoms Goods Facebook page for more information.

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