Infused olive oils are a great addition to any kitchen. Splash some on your pasta dishes, drizzle a light coating on your salads as a salad dressing, or simply dip a chunk of crusty baguette straight into the unfiltered oil. It's all delicious! Plus, the beautiful infused oils make great, easy DIY gifts.
To get started making your own, the most important thing is making sure that you source the best ingredients that you can find and/or afford. Investing in fresh herbs and high-quality extra virgin olive oil will result in a cleaner, clearer, and stronger flavor in your finished, flavored oils.
Preparing the Oil
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Before you begin combining any ingredients, make sure you wash and dry everything that will be going into your olive oil. Bacteria growth stalls in oil, but it can multiply on the water droplets clinging to herbs or fruits. Therefore, try to dry anything that you are going to use as a flavoring overnight.
Once everything is bone dry, you can bruise your herbs with a mortar and pestle. This will entice the natural oils to release more quickly when you put the herbs into the oil. Dried herbs won't see the same effect, so try to use fresh basil or fresh rosemary when possible.
Similarly, spices are best if they are toasted beforehand so that they become more aromatic. Chilis and fruits should be sliced as thinly as possible to allow for a maximum exposure of surface area to the oil.
When you have finally combined your prepared ingredients into the oil, now you have to wait. Allow the glass bottle or jar to sit in a cool, dark place for 1-2 weeks before you use it.
Taste test the progress intermittently to make sure that your oil doesn't over-infuse. Once the taste is to your liking, strain out all the solids in a fine mesh strainer and re-bottle the cooking oil alone.
Naturally, some of you are probably worried about botulism from bacterial growth developing in your homemade infusions. While this is definitely a concern, especially with garlic olive oil, it should not affect you as long as you are vigilant.
Keep your olive oil in the fridge for up to a month and if during that time you observe any sign of spoilage, simply dump the remaining olive oil immediately.
Now that you are all ready, here are a few flavor ideas to infuse you with inspiration.
Rosemary-infused olive oil is great for dipping, but also delicious on meat when you want to add a little herby interest without being overwhelming.
The delicious flavor is subtle enough to enhance the meat without overpowering it.
Thyme goes on almost anything that involves tomatoes. So why not use thyme-infused light olive oil instead? That way you get all of the flavor and none of the leaves.
Basil is the king of herb-infused olive oil creations. Drizzle some basil oil on salad or pasta for a refreshing warm-weather flavor.
It pairs delicious with parmesan, so might we suggest a Caprese salad with shaved Parmesan cheese, drizzled with basil olive oil?
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Softly scent squash or chicken or fish with sage oil.
Its subtlety will make your plate all the more interesting.
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Add a little heat to any dish without overpowering the flavors by infusing hot peppers into your olive oil jar.
This infusion is best made by softening the chilis over low heat in a small saucepan before adding them to the oil bottle.
What can't raw garlic solve? Garlic cloves make the perfect dipping oil, and garlic-infused olive oil packs a whole slew of health benefits.
Garlic oil is one great gift, especially for those obsessed with Italian food. Use it in place of an Italian dressing in a salad.
7. Fennel Seeds
Add a twist to any dish. Use on salads or potatoes for an unusual licorice-like zip and zang in your heating oil.
8. Meyer Lemon
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Make a bright, tangy oil that is a perfect addition to any salad.
The lemon peel adds a beautiful depth and flavor to the oil that tastes just like you're on the coast of Italy in your own kitchen.