Why spend your hard earned cash on purchasing infused oils when you can easily do it yourself? It is simple and fun, costs less and you can make a variety for different uses. I enjoy the subtle nuances it can add to a salad, in sauteing your favorite fish or chicken. These are perfect too for appetizer dips like a garlic, rosemary infused oil with chucks of crusty french bread, a lemon thyme oil drizzled over a cold fruit salad or in a variety of marinades and sauces.
My first go to is olive oil, which is higher in monounsaturated fat, and big on flavor. Canola oil is higher in polyunsaturated fat. Both types are heart healthy and can help lower high cholesterol, which is a good thing compared to butter. Other healthy options include grape seed oil that withstands high heat when cooking and safflower oil. Fresh garlic cloves, basil, dill, thyme, rosemary, chili peppers, citrus peel are all great to flavor and with a creative imagination the possibilities are endless. I enjoy having Achiote oil around for Mexican cooking, Cinnamon infused oil for Middle Eastern and Garlic Rosemary for Italian and French. Super handy and they add that extra touch or help save a few steps on a busy evening.
Usually if an oil is made with fresh ingredients like garlic, herbs and vegetables it is susceptible to C. botulinum (Botulism), a dangerous bacteria that can make you sick. Make sure the fresh herbs are dried completely. The bacteria is introduced via the water not from the oil. Bacteria can’t grow in the oil itself. So be on the safe side and make your flavored oils in small batches, store them in refrigerator and make sure to use within 10 days.
There are two ways to make it: heated or not. For the non-heated version just wash and dry the bottle you are going to store it in. Make sure it has a good seal like a canning jar or has a rubber stopper. Gently crush or “bruise” the herbs, toast any spices, all of which brings out the natural oils flavor of each. Store in the oil of choice and place the bottles in a dark spot for a week or two. This doesn’t take as long as making Preserved Lemons, but it’s worth the wait! Strain out the herbs or spices and pour into cleaned bottles. I like to strain through a cheesecloth for a super clear oil. For the heated version, steep the herbs or spices in a saucepan with oil of choice until oil reaches 180°. Allow to cool down completely and remove the ingredients and discard. Store in cleaned bottles and enjoy.
Lemon Thyme Infused Oil
- 1-2 cups of good olive oil or oil of choice see above.
- Any herb washed and dried completely.
- Any spice slightly toasted to bring out its natural oils.
- Non-Heated Version:
- Wash and dry the bottle you are going to store it in completely. Make sure it has a good seal like a canning jar or has a rubber stopper.
- Gently crush or "bruise" the herbs, toast any spices, all of which brings out the natural oils flavor of each.
- Place herbs and or spices in bottle and cover with oil.
- Store in the oil of choice and place the bottles in a dark spot for a week or two.
- Strain out the herbs or spices and pour into cleaned bottles.
- Heated Oil version:
- Heat your oil of choice in a small saucepan.
- Add your desired herbs or spices and let steep for a few minutes (until the ingredients are fragrant). If using spices, toast slightly first to bring out their natural oils. Oil temp should be 180°.
- Cool, strain and pour into cleaned bottles.