10 Ways to Infuse Oils for Extra Flavor in Cooking
It Isn't Rocket Science; Making Infused Oils is Easy
Good Olive Oils for Cooking
Once again, it’s time to look for gift ideas that are inexpensive but nice quality. What to get this year?
Handmade gifts are really popular; now more so than twenty years ago, when money still flowed freely around the continents and the entire globe was not in recession. If you can find nice gifts that are easy to make and they’re inexpensive, then you’ve hit the jackpot.
Even in more affluent times, though, it can be hard to choose creative handmade gifts for someone, but all is not lost; just about everybody we know eats, so food as a gift is a great idea. Even better, when giving one single gift to a couple or a family; give them something the whole family can use - homemade condiments!
Food as a Gift
Homemade flavored olive oils have been popular for a long time, and for some reason, even more so now. Maybe it’s the health benefits one gets over using vegetable oil, maybe it’s the taste - and yes, olive oil tastes very different from vegetable oils.
You can infuse most anything (flavor-wise) in an evoo olive oil and it’ll be well received as a gift. Put it in a beautiful bottle and wrap it nicely, and it’s just as easy to make five or ten different kinds and hand someone gourmet gift baskets with samples of smaller bottles.
The best flavored and well-liked olive oil is extra virgin olive oil. Extra virgin refers to the lighter taste of the oil and the amount of acidity in it. It’s taste is more subtle and the oleic acid maximum is roughly 1%. ‘Fine’ olive oil is roughly 2%. The extra virgin oil tastes better and is healthier for you. For simplicity, any oil referred to in this article is extra virgin olive oil.
How To Make Flavored Oils; Steep It
When making infused oil, figure out what you want it to taste like, first, or if making several kinds, figure which flavors to get. When adding things in chunks to the oil, spear them on skewers (like you get for kabobs) so they don’t float.
The most popular and widely used is garlic infused olive oil. People love garlic! People who love garlic like it in everything, and when you cook in garlic oil, it lends a faint garlic flavor to the food that cooks in it. It can be used in recipes, as well, adding garlic flavor when there’s no garlic present.
Whatever you add to this oil will be preserved as long as it’s under the oil’s surface. If it gets exposed to the air above the surface, it’s likely to mold. When the oil is used and it gets near the bottom, simply remove the skewer and garlic (or strain out spices through wire mesh) to keep the rest of the oil from going putrid.
Garlic Olive Oil Recipe
- Peel three cloves of garlic per skewer to be used, and simply slide them onto the sticks.
- Put the skewered garlic down into the bottle, then fill the bottle with oil. You may have to halve the cloves if they’re big; or use a bottle with a wide mouth.
- Seal tightly.
- Store it in a dark place; a cabinet, the garage; anywhere that’s dark but you have easy access.
- You shake it every day, mixing the infused olive oil on the top with the oil on the bottom, and then put it back. Do this for three weeks.
- After three weeks, taste it. Is it good? If so, it’s done. If not, steep it another week and taste it again.
- Strain the oil through a mesh strainer and put into clean, sterile bottles or jars.
- Get new skewers and garlic to make it look nice, and insert them.
Your flavored olive oil recipe is not only ready to use, but it’s ready to gift. Wrap it nicely; those decorative bags they sell for wine bottles now are great for this, if giving just one bottle.
Some Good Olive Oil Infusing Flavors Are:
When making different infused oil recipes, always use fresh ingredients to look nice at the end. Don’t save the ones that have been steeping in the oil for weeks, new ones will make it look and taste better. Here are nine more ideas for infused olive oil that can be used for cooking:
- Garlic (we already know)
- Fennel (the green fronds for prettiness, the white bulb for flavor)
- Peppercorn (peppercorns come in black, pink, white, etc. Crack some and leave some whole)
- Jalapeno peppers or habaneras (yes, you CAN make it too hot, so taste frequently when making)
- Terragon (delicious! Use fresh if possible)
- Thai basil (fresh)
- Lemon olive oil (use the colored zest and fruit without any white only)
- Oregano (fresh)
- Rosemary olive oil (fresh, use the stem, too)
- Pineapple (sounds strange but it’s so good!)
Experiment with small samples to find the kind you’ll like the best. You don’t want to ruin a whole bottle of oil on something you find is distasteful or gross. Be creative - there’s a specialty store that sells chocolate extra virgin olive oil - chocolate olive oil is delicious and tastes great in soups and stews.
If using habanera peppers, consider it done as soon as you can taste the heat in the oil. This kind of pepper gets hotter as time goes by, so unless you like it fire hot, keep tabs on the flavor. Experiment in the off season, then you’ll have only the best for holidays or Father’s Day gift ideas.
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Share some of your infusion ideas?
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