Jul 5, 2011

Oil Infusions 101

Making infused oils is a process of transferring flavor and scent into a carrier oil. It can be used to add flavor to cooking oils. As well as making scent oils for use in aromatherapy, massage oils and making beauty products like soaps and lotions.

It is a simple process of infusing flowers, herbs or spices into an oil by heating so that the volatile oils can transfer into the carrier oil. (this is the same for herbal tea insusions, vinegar infusions, etc.)

The best type of oil to use is extra virgin olive oil, you can also use grape seed, peanut or sunflower oil. Walnut oil is also good if it will be used cold such as for salad dressings since it is not good for heating.

How to make an infused oil
There are two main ways to infuse the oil: heating the oil on a stove or leaving an oil in a hot place for the sun to warm.

Cold Method
  1. Wash your herbs and dry completely
  2. Bruise or rub herbs, for spices toast them to bring out the flavor
  3. Place in a clean dry glass jar
  4. Add oil until it completely covers the herbs/spices
  5. Place a lid on the jar and close
  6. Place the jar on a sunny windowsill or other sunny spot. Swirl or shake the jar every day or so
  7. After a week drain off the oil into a clean dry jar using a sieve or cheesecloth or coffee filter
  8. Taste the oil to see if the flavour is strong enough
  9. If you want it stronger add more herbs/spices to the oil, close the lid and place back in the sunny spot for another week
  10. Repeat as needed 
  11. If you are happy with the flavor, pour the oil into a nice glass bottle, you can also add a fresh sprig of herb to make if look fancy
  12. Store in a cool dry place like the refrigerator
 **It is important that no moisture is introduced into the oil as it can become rancid or prone to mold or bacteria growth. (Garlic is particularly prone to this so it should be stored in the fridge or made with the heating method mentioned below)

Hot Method
Heating the herbs/spices in oil is a quicker way of making infused oil and is great for dried herbs and spices since the heat helps brings out the flavour. If using dried herbs, instead of fresh, skip steps 1-3 and start at step 4.
  1. Wash your fresh herbs and dry completely (there should be no water)
  2. Bruise or rub herbs; for spices toast them to bring out the flavor
  3. Place in a clean dry glass jar
  4. Heat the oil (and dried spices, if you're not using fresh) until the oil slightly bubbles and spices sizzle, it needs constant stirring but should only take about 5 minutes; don't overcook or let boil
  5. When ready, (strain out dried herbs if used) pour oil into a clean glass jar and let cool
  6. Taste the oil to see if the flavor is strong enough  
  7. Close the top and store in a cool dry place for two weeks and then store in the refrigerator (or start using right away if you used dried herbs)
  8. Don't let the fresh herbs stick out above the oil, or else mold forms. Take them out of the oil once infused so this doesn't happen
If you have the plants in your garden, then you can save money and be quite resourceful. If there are plants or smells you like, you may want to invest in those particular plants (assuming they grow well in your location).

Or, intead of infusing fresh herbs/flowers, you could do dried herbs or even just use essential oils instead. Check out the Essential Oils 101 post.

Make Italian infused oil for sauteeing meat, roasting potatoes, making croutons, or putting on your pasta with parmesan (1-2 sprigs of  basil, thyme, oregano, etc.--according to taste).

*ideas from instructables.com and RS activity with Catherine Glenn

No comments:

Post a Comment