The art of infused oils
Personally, I love cooking with flavored olive oil. It makes me feel like a gourmet chef! The only problem is I have found purchasing flavored oils can be quite expensive. The flavors are excellent and the meal tastes good when I get done, but do I really have to spend a lot of money to get that result?
As I write this I am getting ready to embark on trial run of creating my own flavored olive oil. Why? A few reasons. I love finding ways to cut costs. I like trying to new creative recipes. I have fresh herbs growing in my back yard and I am looking for a creative way to use them. I also think that flavored oils will make great gift ideas if I can create them myself at home. Packaged in a beautiful bottle or jar, with a cute gift tag and you have a wonderful gift that anyone who cooks can use.
To start, I have been doing some research online on how best to prepare the herbs so that they will infuse the oil with the most flavor, how long to let them infuse and how to keep the oil from growing bacteria. (Side Note: I didn't even know this could be an issue until I started my research. I really glad I did some reading before starting this project, I would not want to be responsible for getting anyone sick.)
First, is to decide what flavors you think will go well together. I have chosen about onion, rosemary and oregano. I chose these flavors because I have them growing in my backyard. You could also make fruit infused olive oils to use in combination with vinegar for home made salad dressings. I am also thinking you could create your own flavored vinegar. For this trial run, I am going to stick with herb based oil infusions. (But would love to hear about your fruit experiments if you try any).
Next, I need to find some containers to infuse my oil in. I can start with the container that I want to give the gift in or I can infuse in any sealed jar and transfer to another container before giving. I think that I am going to start small, just to see how the oil turns out. If I like my combinations then I will make some larger batches. Here are the supplies you will need for this project.
- Canning Jar or Bottle with a rubber stopper or good seal (the container needs to seal tightly)
- Fresh herbs of your choice
- Good quality olive oil
- Scissors/ Hole punch
Step one: Purchase good quality olive oil and herbs (or pick them from you own garden)
Step two: Find or purchase jars and bottles with a good seal.
Step three: Wash your herbs and let them dry overnight, its the water on the herbs that could have the potential to grow bacteria in your oil, so you want to make sure they are completely dry before placing them into your oil.
Step four: You need to bruise your herbs to release their aromatic oils. To do this you can either gently roll them and rub them with your fingers or gently tap them with a mallet or the back of a knife.
Step five: Place your chosen herbs in the container you are going to use for infusing, then fill with good quality olive oil.
Step six: Seal your container and let it sit in a cool, dark place for 1-2 weeks before using or gifting.
Step seven (optional): You can strain out the herbs after two weeks so they no longer infuse or you can leave them in as you use the oil.
In my containers seen here I have chosen to combine rosemary and oregano in one of the very small containers and in the others I have done rosemary, onion (just the greens on top of the onion) and oregano as stand alone flavors.
Tip: If giving as a gift, I feel that leaving the herbs and spices in the bottle adds to the look of the gift.
At this point if you are giving your oil as a gift you can print out the free gift tags included in this tutorial or make your. Attach the tag with twine or ribbon that matches your container and your ready to present your gift.
Infused olive oil can be used as a gift for many different occasions. Make a few bottles and use it as a wedding gift, grab one out of the cupboard for a last minute hostess or birthday gift. Does someone in your family love to cook gourmet meals? Make set for Christmas or just because.
I think you will find that the most expensive part of this gift is buying good quality olive oil, the rest of the supplies are quite affordable and easy to find. Just remember the higher quality ingredients that you use, the better your infused oil will taste.
Don't forget to visit www.bethannerickson.etsy.com for more printable designs for purchase.
Coming Next Week: Fourth of July: Decorating in red, white and blue