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Friday, January 2, 2015

Can you substitute essential oil for fresh ginger?

“Can you substitute ginger essential oil for fresh ginger?” One of our patrons was baking and didn’t want to have to buy an entire ginger root only to use a little of it. They already had organic food-grade essential oil in their house (while not all essential oil is necessarily safe to eat, you can buy varieties that are) and wondered if they could substitute.

We found a forum post on Chowhound discussing ginger essential oil in food, and it led us to believe that our patron would only need to use a very small amount of their oil, as everyone posting noted that it was very potent. However, we still couldn’t find a clear substitution ratio.

Eventually, we found a recipe in Aromatic Monthly for chai tea using either essential oils or whole spices. It called for either one drop of ginger oil or “two pea size fresh ginger (mulched).” Finally we had something of an equivalency, but it was too imprecise to be of much help. Our patron ultimately decided that their best option was to add the oil a drop at a time until they achieved the flavor they wanted.

For more information on essential oils (though tending more toward aromatherapy than cooking), The A to Z of Essential Oils by E. Joy Bowles, Complete Aromatherapy Handbook by Susanne Fischer-Rizzi, and The Complete Illustrated Guide to Aromatherapy by Julia Lawless are available at the Newton Falls Public Library. For more information on ginger specifically, Helen Sudell’s Ginger: A Book of Recipes is available through CLEVNET.

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