Thursday, September 1, 2011

How to Make Your Own Infused Olive Oils

Olive oil is a wonderful Clean resource for preparing a flavorful meal with a heart healthy oil. Infusing the oil with a spice or flavoring is an easy way to add additional flavor to your meals without added salt or preservatives. However, there is a right way to make infused oils at home - and a unsafe, wrong way. Despite numerous direction to do so on the Internet, you can't just plunk a garlic clove in oil and let it "steep" for a few weeks.

Following the directions to keep your additives moisture free will ensure a quality infused oil!

The unsafe way is to put anything in the oil that contains any trace of water or moisture.  That would include garlic, lemon peel, fresh peppers, fresh herbs and spices.  The oil will not support bacterial growth but the water from fresh herbs and peels will.  Botulism bacteria can grow in this type of environment, even in a sealed bottle. DON'T  just throw any ingredient into olive oil and let it infuse. You are just asking for trouble!

Your best bet is to heat the olive oil before the infusing process to kill any bacteria present in the infusing medium ( garlic, herbs, chilis ) Heating the water in the garlic/herb/chili will remove any potential for bacteria to be present. It also speeds up the infusing process and instead of taking 3-4 weeks to develop flavor, the oil reaches a full flavor within a matter of days after cooking.

For example, my husband's future wife Giada di Laurentiis advises:


- 1 cup olive oil
- 4-5 fresh rosemary sprigs (each 5 inches long), bruised lightly ( rub springs gently in hands to bruise )

In small saucepan, combine oil & rosemary. Cook over  low heat until a thermometer reaches 180 F, about 5 minutes. Remove, cover, and let cool to room temp. Transfer the sprigs to a clean bottle, then add the oil.
 Seal and refrigerate up to 1 month

Some potential olive oil infusions to try at home using the above method:

Citrus peels - lemon, lime, grapefruit
Fresh Herbs - rosemary, basil, thyme
Garlic - use slightly crushed cloves to allow garlic flavor to infuse
Chilis - small and hot Scotch Bonnets, Jalapenos, or Milder varieties
Peppercorns - slightly cracked to allow infusion

I just love salmon baked lightly with a drizzle of lime infused olive oil!