Flavored Oil Basics
Flavored oils are great for cooking, salad dressings & vinaigrettes. Flavored oils are fantastic for bread dipping too!.
And......if you need a fast and fun gift, well they make great Housewarming and Thinking of you gifts.
They're easy to make, and look great sitting on the kitchen counter too!
- Use sterile bottles (boil them!) Its best not to wipe them out with a cloth. Let them drip completely dry.
- Making a lot is just as easy as making a little. Invite a friend or two over and have a great time!
- Save up any wine corks you can get, to use in bottling. If not, they are relatively easy to find. Here, they are sold in the grocery store and in wine-making (home-brewing) specialty stores.
- You can find all kinds of beautiful oil bottles on the Internet or even the very bottle you buy your olive oil in would most likely work great. You will just need to soak off the old label so you can ad your own unique label.
- Glass bottles are best and you can find some extremely interesting looking bottles at Flea Markets or Garage Sales. Just be sure they are Clean Clean Clean! There's no reason to buy bottles if you keep your eyes open in the kitchen (and the kitchens of others!)
- The shelf life of oil use to be at least three months on a shelf if placed in a cool dry place. Now we are reading all kinds of cautions about the danger of oils being saved for that long. It's best to be safe and do your research. Now don't let this scare you into not trying this fun craft! With any food prep, there are always rules to follow. And with food, the rules are always changing as well. It's best to check with your local Extention Service and see what they have to say on the subject. See our Safety Tips at the bottom of the page.
HOW TO DO IT:
Decide on an oil. Peanut oil is a great base for stir-fry oils, since it can take the high temperatures. Olive oil is super for use on and in pasta and breads. Other specialty oils (walnut, almond, grapeseed, etc.) are kinda expensive, and since your goal is to flavor them anyway, it may not be worth it until you're pretty confident.
Whenever you want to add anything moist & fleshy (onion, garlic, peppers, etc.) you should acidify it first to prevent toxins from building up. Just drop it in a bunch of vinegar in the fridge for 12 to 24 hours, drain it real good, and you're ready to go.
For the peppers, you can acidify fresh ones, but dried ones hold up better and don't require any special treatment. In fact, most everything that has been pre dried, or maybe even you yourself could dry it in a dehydrator, will hold up much better. They flavor the oil quite well and look cool in the bottle. Dried tomatoes are one of my favorites to use in a bottle.
Now is when you get creative.
Decide what you want in your bottles.
- For stir-fry oils I like garlic, peppercorns, and peppers in peanut oil.
- For bread topping, pastas, and salads, I like a giant sprig of rosemary in olive oil or olive oil with garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, and Italian herbs.
Rinse and dry thoroughly all sprigs of herbs, etc. Put your items in the bottle. You want about 80% oil, and 20% flavoring ingredients. Try for big sprigs of herbs, they are prettiest. Just stick them into that bottle! Sometimes a chopstick or wooden spoon handle help.
Use a funnel to fill the bottle with oil, all the way into the neck. You don't want to leave much air between the oil and cork.
Cork the bottles, wash off any drips with hot soapy water, dry the bottle off, then dip the bottles upside-down into hot wax, about an inch past the cork. When cooled, dip again. (Be sure to use a double boiler for the wax!) And don't forget to make fancy labels for the bottles too! And last but not least, make sure you attach a nice tag wrapped around the neck of the bottle giving hints about what to use that particular oil for. This is very important because you will find that not many people are familiar with how to use and eat flavored oil and vinegars.
Educate them and have fun!
Continued Tips: --You can leave the herbs, etc. in the oil until it reaches the flavor you want and remove them, or leave the stuff in. It's prettiest when you leave it in. REMEMBER, though, that as your herbs are exposed to air, they will get yucky and fuzzy, so add more oil as you use it, or remove the herbs as they become exposed!! (A little note on the back of the bottle can instruct your friends of this.) You need to be safe about it. If I'm giving oil as a gift. I will usually make sure that my herbs and dried tomatoes are sunk to the bottom of the bottle. That way you can use half the bottle up before ever having to worry about it being exposed to the air.
Another fun thing to do is to get together with a friend with a pasta machine, and make a bunch of dried pasta and oils and vinegars. Then you can each give some of them in gift baskets, and it's pretty special. I like to add fun stuff to the basket, (maybe a candle or pasta server, loaf of fresh bread, and a bottle of wine.) It makes a very impressive and inexpensive wedding gift! I also made up a little booklet with all my vinaigrette recipes in it, to go along with a nice bottle of flavored oil, or vinegar, or one of each! I also included my homepage address on the booklet for anybody who wants to reference my recipes and ideas on-line.
Another part of my website is Gifts-in-a-jar. This is another fantastic item to put in your gift basket that can theme itself right in. A jar of a favorite bread mix would go perfect with a nice homemade bottle of flavored olive oil.
No Fuss! No Worries!
Vinegars are fun, flavorful, and easy easy easy!! Because of the high acidity, you don't have to worry as much about making anybody sick!
Experiment with different vinegars
You'll be surprised how good white vinegar can taste!
Throw some berries in the bottom of a bottle and fill it with vinegar. In a week you'll be ready to sprinkle it over a salad. If you like a sweeter salad topper, start with rice wine vinegar.
Keep a wine bottle in the fridge. Whenever you have a splash of wine left at the end of a bottle, pour it in the bottle in the fridge. Add some of it to white vinegars for a great flavor.
Go for the herbs, peppers, peppercorns, dried tomatoes, etc. in a red or white wine vinegar.
And ohhh my goodiness you have to try these sprinkled on FISH!
You will not find any measurements or recipes in this section because there's is no right or wrong to making flavored vinegars. Just remember to make at least 80% the vinegar and 20% the flavors that you add. Experiment with it. You really can't go wrong and its Great Fun!
I guarantee you will impress yourself and fill fulfilled at what you've accomplished. Really, I promise. :) Smileeeeeeeee!
OIL AND VINEGAR HERB OILS
Another Way it can be done
Aromatic herbal oils are easy to make and taste great in salad dressings and marinades. Suitable herbs include basil, marjoram, oregano, thyme, rosemary, fennel, garlic, thyme, tarragon, and savory. Start with a good, mild flavored vegetable oil like extra virgin olive oil or sunflower oil. Bruise the herbs by crumbling them slightly, then add to a glass jar or bottle, filling loosely. Cover the top of the jar with a paper towel or thin but tightly woven cloth like muslin using a rubber band to secure. Set the whole thing in a sunny spot in your kitchen, shake daily, and after a week or two, strain out the herbs. Store oil in a clean sealed bottle. You can also make a quicker version of this by adding the herbs to your jar and covering with slightly heated oil. Store either variety in the refrigerator.
NOTE: We are cautioned in this day and time about how long oil will last. Use to, we kept flavored oils up to 3 months. We are reading now that oil does not last as long as we once thought it would, when mixed with other food items and saved. With any food item, its is possible that you could get sick if you keep it to long.
Always play it safe.
Just as easy as the oil. Combine the two for a great salad dressing. The best herb vinegars use wine vinegars as a base, but any vinegar will work. Red wine vinegars work better with strongly flavored herbs like basil, dill, fennel, parsley, garlic, and bay leaves. White wine vinegars are more delicate and work well with mild herbs like chives, marjoram, thyme, tarragon, and edible flowers. The most fun is to create your own preferred blend. Start with a quart of vinegar. Clean and dry 1/4 cup fresh herbs, loosely fill a glass bottle and pour in the vinegar. The quick version has you boil and simmer the concoction for a half hour, otherwise just cap it tightly and let it hang around for a month or two before straining and sealing in sterile decorative bottles. Add a handful of fresh leaves to prettify it if you want. To get real fancy, dip the top of the sealed bottle in hot paraffin flavored with cinnamon. The finished product is a mildly-flavored and beautiful addition to any kitchen or pantry.
- You may want to check with your local Extension Service Representative and ask what the current recommendations are for safely making and storing flavored oils.
- Health organizations are recommending that homemade flavored oils always be refrigerated and should be used with ----in 2 to 3 days if using the cold infusion method.
---- within 1 week for the warm infusion.
---- 1 month for the oven method.
- Cold Infusion Method: Combine herbs and oil. Pureed herbs disperse their flavor more quickly but are not as aesthetically pleasing. Use with in 2 to 3 days. Store in the refrigerator at all times.
Warm Infusion Method:
In a saucepan, combine herbs and oil. Heat to a simmer, reduce heat slightly and cook just below simmering for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and strain through several layers of cheesecloth into a sterilized glass jar.
Label with the date and refrigeration instructions. Store in the refrigerator at all times. Use with in 1 week.
Makes approximately 1 cup (250 mL).
Oven Method: Place oil and chopped vegetable or herb in a 2 cup (500 mL) glass measuring cup. Set glass measuring cup on a pie plate and place in a 300°F (150°C) oven for 1 hour. At the end of heating, the vegetable pieces should be a medium brown color and crisp. If not, continue baking until they turn brown. Remove cup to a rack to cool for 30 minutes. Line a small strainer with a coffee filter or several layers of cheesecloth. Strain oil into a clean glass jar, cover and store in refrigerator at all times. Use within a month. Makes 1 cup (250 mL).