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essence vs oil vs extract


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#1 prasantrin

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Posted 31 December 2007 - 04:01 AM

I thought I had asked this question before, but despite several searches, I have yet to find the answer.

I wanted to make peppermint-flavoured sweets. I'm starting with peppermint caramels, then moving onto chocolate peppermint cookies or brownies or similar. Most recipes I've found call for peppermint extract, but I cannot find any--online or in stores--in Japan. However, I can find peppermint essence.

If I substitute an essence for an extract, would I just do a 1:1 substitution, or is there a big difference between the two? For example, a cookie recipe I found calls for 3/4 tsp peppermint extract, so I thought I'd just use 3/4 tsp. peppermint essence. The only problem is, my bottle is terribly small (27mL) and fairly expensive given its size (about US$5), so I'm hoping to cut down on the quantity.

In my imagination, when I previously asked this question, Wendy DeBord mentioned something about alcohol content or flavour concentration or something like that. I don't know any of the numbers for a standard peppermint extract, but my bottle of peppermint essence says 0.5% flavouring (I think--it's in Japanese) and 55% ethanol. It was the only bottle of peppermint anything (other than creme de menthe) I could find after much searching.

And how do oils fit in? I would imagine an oil would be more concentrated, so I would use less of it. Does that sound right? If a recipe called for 1 tsp. of extract, or 1 tsp. of essence, how much oil would I use? If I can ever find any, that is.

#2 Anna N

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Posted 31 December 2007 - 04:28 AM

I hope Kerry Beal will chime in and give you better answers but I have both peppermint oil and peppermint extract - the oil is 3-4 times more expensive than the extract and much more potent. I do not know how to convert quantities from one to another.

In the meantime, you might find this link helpful.

Edited to add link.

Edited by Anna N, 31 December 2007 - 04:32 AM.

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#3 Kerry Beal

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Posted 31 December 2007 - 07:11 AM

I think the essence and extract should be fairly interchangable. When I've brought back flavourings labelled 'essence' from Barbadoes and opened them, they seem to be alcohol based and about the strength I would associated with extract.

Oil is much stronger and you start with a drop or two, tasting as you go along until you get the flavour you are after. Of course this is a bit difficult with caramel as it is generally pretty hot at this point. With my standard batch of caramel I think I add about 5 drops of peppermint oil to get just a nice warm minty flavour.

#4 zoe b

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Posted 31 December 2007 - 07:12 AM

that was an excellent article, Anna--I enjoyed reading it.

I think peppermint essence and extract are most likely the same thing--I believe essence is the British term for extract--and so are interchangeable for use.


(oops, posting at the same time as Kerry!)

Edited by zoe b, 31 December 2007 - 08:07 AM.


#5 Lior

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Posted 31 December 2007 - 07:37 AM

Yes I also liked the article-thanks!

#6 prasantrin

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Posted 31 December 2007 - 04:12 PM

Thanks! The WP article was very useful--why didn't I find it? (And I searched for a loooooong time!)

In my research, I found that most recipes calling for essence were from the UK, while most extract ones were US, so I suspected they might be interchangeable.

Last night I made some hot chocolate and added exactly three drops of the essence--barely any peppermint flavour at all, so it's definitely not as strong as oil. I guess Japanese don't like peppermint too much, though, because my peppermint essence bottle only has a teeny hole and must be administered in drops rather than spoonfuls. :unsure:

Thanks again, and I'm making caramels tonight! :smile:

Edited by prasantrin, 01 January 2008 - 03:11 AM.


#7 gap

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Posted 01 January 2008 - 02:43 AM

As a very general rule, I use 2 drops of essence to 1 drop of oil when converting - but tasting as you go is always better if possible

#8 prasantrin

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Posted 02 January 2008 - 07:55 PM

mmmmmmm...peppermint caramels!

I ended up using about 1.5 tsp of peppermint essence for about 2/3 batch of caramel (used Kerry's recipe, and I was aiming for half-batches, but I screwed up a bit when I was pouring it out), and I think it's perfect!

Next time I'm going to try my yuzu essence.

#9 Kerry Beal

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Posted 02 January 2008 - 08:09 PM

mmmmmmm...peppermint caramels!

I ended up using about 1.5 tsp of peppermint essence for about 2/3 batch of caramel (used Kerry's recipe, and I was aiming for half-batches, but I screwed up a bit when I was pouring it out), and I think it's perfect! 

Next time I'm going to try my yuzu essence.

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I'll be interested in knowing how that turns out.