nfused oils are, in my opinion, the most sought after item to kick any pantry from generic to gourmet. And if you think you don’t have the money to invest in oil, I’m here to tell ya, you can make em yourself! Using any extra virgin olive oil you like and some fresh herbs, you’ll be sitting pretty on the train to flavor town! Woot woot!
I have found an amazing organic Mediterranean olive oil from Aldi (that’s also $3.99 a pop! Like hello, so affordable!) that I just love. It lends a smooth and slightly spicy finish that yields to some awesome finished infusions.
The key to any good oil is starting with slightly wilted herbs. Take basil for example. This tends to be a rather damp leaf and if you were to tear it off and cover it in oil, as the water content begins to release, you run the risk of growing so yucky bacteria, turning your beautiful green oil, black. To avoid this, I let my leaves sit out overnight to dry out slightly. With herbs like rosemary, oregano or thyme, after giving them a good rinse, set to dry on your counter for about 24 hours before they hit your oil. Items like garlic or citrus peels follow a similar process, typically leaving peeled, crushed (I do this with the back of wooden spoon, so it just cracks slightly) cloves of garlic to the air overnight and allowing them to dry out. Lemon zest, same idea. Peel off your desired amount, leave overnight before oiling.
Once you’re ready to jar, and I use just plain old mason jars, grab your herbs and toss them right in. Be sure to leave enough room so that you’re able to shake the jar and cover all leaves, you don’t want it so packed that the oil cannot move. At this point, pour your oil so it completely covers the herbs, plus one more inch on top. You want to ensure that there’s no way for air to hit your aromatics, as they could begin to deteriorate. The last thing you want is a rotten oil.
I recommend storing these little beauts in a cool, dark place, checking on them every so often. Maybe 2/3 times a week, shaking them up to get things moving and releasing more of that wonderful flavor. Your entire process will take 2 weeks. But, if you lack patience, as I do, you can totally use your flavor oil 12-24 hours later, but it won’t have as much concentration of flavor just yet. Two weeks seems to be the sweet spot for optimal flavor concentration. At this point, you will drain your oil through cheesecloth or a strainer, leaving behind your newly minted, (OOO! Mint oil!) flavor infused oil. Your flavor oils will last up to 30 days at room temperature.
I’m a flavor maniac, so I love blending infusions.
I feel like a mad scientist, creating my own tiny Frankensteins in the kitchen. A favorite is mixing equal parts lemon oil and garlic oil and creating super easy vinaigrettes, a marinade for chicken or even a quick drizzle on top of a charcuterie plate! Rosemary, thyme and sage will give you a taste of thanksgiving comfort all year round. Play with these flavors. There are no wrong options, the world is your oyster… ooo. Oysters… sautéed in some fresh garlic oil… *wanders slowly to the store in search of shellfish*
Oh! And I almost forgot the best part. GIFTS! Infused oils make ahhhhmazing handmade gifts. Whether you toss a bow right on the lid of the mason jar you concocted your elixir in, or find a cute little corked bottle at a craft store, your recipient will be thrilled to receive the gift of yum.