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What I am trying to do is make a drink called "Tarhun". It is, in its essence tarragon extract, sugar, water and lemon juice. I can not find fresh tarragon, so I must use either oil based tarragon extract or dried herb.

In the case of an extract - how would one create an emulsion with the essentail oil (or an oil based extract) for a drink? If you just put a drop of it in water it wont mix - it will stay a single drop of oil.

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Sugar will bind with the essential oil, allowing you to produce a flavored syrup that you can use to sweeten the drink in place of sugar. This is a commonly used practice in drink-making since a syrup is much quicker to integrate than dry sugar.

For a typical simple syrup recipe, you combine equal parts water and sugar and heat them until the sugar dissolves. With a flavor extract, I typically add the extract to the sugar first, let the sugar absorb the extract, then add the water and proceed as normal. You'll need to experiment with the amount of extract to achieve your desired level of flavor.

Keep the resulting syrup in an airtight container in the refrigerator; it will keep for at least a couple weeks. If you increase to two parts sugar to one part water (sometimes called "rich simple syrup") or add a small amount of alcohol, you'll get much longer shelf life.

Your other option is to bind the oil with some other emulsifier; egg white is commonly used in cocktails for its ability to form stable, thick foams (which is just an emulsification of air in liquid). The disadvantages with using egg white are that it's difficult to measure in small portions, it will change the texture and flavor of your drink somewhat, and you'll need to agitate (i.e. shake) the drink in order to emulsify the proteins in the egg.

  • Very informative, thank you. Do you, by chance know further how is the sugar reacting with oil? I would expect the oil become one blob again when I dissolve the sugar in water. Great answer either way. – data Jun 8 '15 at 22:48
  • @data I don't know a ton about the chemistry involved, but from what I understand the sugar has chemical groups which can interact with both oil and water. By adding the oil first, you can "bind" it to the sugar, and it remains bound even when the sugar is dissolved in water. – logophobe Jun 10 '15 at 21:55

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