Herb infused olive oils can be a delicious delight to make salad dressings, bread dipping sauces, to saute’ veggies, or for roasting potatoes. But be careful; there is a way to make infused oils safely, in a way that does not support Botulism bacterial growth. Water is the culprit for ruined infused olive oil, so herbs should be dry, avoiding any water in the infusion. Hot infusions last longer, with a much lower risk of bacteria, but cold infusions impart a more robust herbal flavor, and can last in the refrigerator for up to a week or two.
How to Make a Hot Infusion
Hot herb infused olive oil works well with dried or hearty/woody herbs. Dried whole herbs work great, but powdered herbs generally do not work with an olive oil infusion. Peppercorns, rosemary, dried mushrooms, dried chilis, or fresh bay, sage, thyme, and rosemary are herbs to try in a cold herb infused olive oil.
- First, prepare the herbs. Herbs should be dry and in large pieces. When using fresh herbs like sage, thyme, or rosemary, allow to dry overnight after they have been picked and rinsed.
- Using a double boiler and a thermometer, carefully heat your olive oil to 150 degrees. Do not exceed 150 degrees, or it can burn the delicate olive oil flavor.
- Remove from heat and add your herbs. For every quart of olive oil, add 1/2 cup of herbs. Stir the herbs, cover with a lid, and then leave it alone.
- Allow the infusion to cool to room temperature. Taste the flavor; the longer the herbs infuse, the stronger the flavor. Infusion should not take more than 6 hours.
- Once satisfied with the taste, remove the herbs using a strainer.
- Store in a sealed glass container. Hot infused oil can be stored in the cupboard or in the refrigerator. It should last one month, but if the flavor of the oil changes, throw it away just to be safe.
How to Make a Cold Infusion
Cold herb infused olive oil should be made with fresh herbs. More detailed flavor components of the fresh herbs is captured in a cold infusion compared to a hot infusion. Herbs that make great cold olive oil infusions include basil, rosemary, garlic, ginger, oregano, sage, thyme, and lemon peel. With cold infusions, it is very important that the fresh herbs are as dry as possible, to avoid dangerous bacterial growth!
- Pick your fresh herbs, rinse clean, shake off the water, and pat dry. Set on a towel and allow to dry overnight. Make sure the herbs are dry; you do not want to get water in the olive oil infusion as it can lead to bacterial growth.
- Mince the dried fresh herbs thoroughly, preferably using a food processor.
- Add to oil. For every 1 quart of oil, add 1 cup of fresh minced herbs.
- Store in the refrigerator in a sealed glass container for up to two weeks to infuse. Test the flavor of the oil every other day, until it reaches desired taste.
- Once the infusion has reached desired flavor, strain the herbs from the oil and rebottle in a fresh glass sealed container.
- Use within 1-2 weeks. If the flavor of the oil changes, throw it away.
Here is How to Make Herb Infused Olive Oil in a Crock Pot
Here are Some Pointers:
- Choose high quality extra virgin olive oil, packaged in a dark colored bottle.
- Do not infuse more than two herbs into the olive oil. Keep it simple. One herb is usually best, but you can combine some herbs, like garlic with rosemary or basil. Or, ginger combines well with lemon. Make small batches until you figure out the flavor infusion you like best.
- Keep it dry! Don’t let water ruin your infusion!
- Remember, cold infusions must be stored in the refrigerator, while hot infusions can be stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Hot infusions last about twice as long as cold infusions, with cold infusions lasting up to a week or two.
Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all.
– Nelson Mandela
Post By: Kathy Sadowski, MS in Aromatherapy, RA (ARC), NAHA and AIA Professional Member, LMT