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How to Infuse Oil
Once you learn how to infuse oil with other flavors, you can add subtle nuances to your cooking. Infused oils are widely available at many high-end grocery and gourmet stores. But, infusing oils yourself can save you money, allow you to create your own flavors, and doing it yourself is easy. They make great bases for salad dressings, marinades, and sauces – not to mention they make great gifts.
Infused oils are best made with strongly scented herbs and/or spices. Some ideal herbs to use are rosemary, oregano, and tarragon, and ideal spices are cinnamon, cloves, or cumin. You’re only limited by your own creativity, as you generally use any herb, spice, or combination thereof that you like. And, the base oil can be a somewhat flavorless oil like canola oil, so that the flavor of the herbs and spices shines through. Or olive oil can be used for a more complexly flavored oil.
There are basically two methods to make infused oils: hot and cold. Both procedures will be outlined here.
· 4 cups of oil (like canola)
· Whole fresh herbs, whole spices (for example a whole cinnamon stick instead of ground cinnamon, or combination of herbs and spices). Make sure to wash and dry fresh herbs before using.
· Container with tight-fitting lid. You can use a decorative glass bottle for a gift.
· A pan for heating the oil
· Candy thermometer
· Large bowl (hot method only: for cooling the oil)
Hot Method for Infusing Oil
1. Heat the oil and herbs and spices in a pan on the stove top over medium heat until it reaches 140 degrees F. Keep an eye on the oil during the heating phase, taking care not to burn the oil.
2. Continue to cook at 140 degrees F for approximately 5 minutes.
3. Remove the oil from the heat and pour into a bowl to cool the oil at room temperature. Do not remove the herbs and spices.
4. After the oil has cooled, taste it to ensure that the oil hasn’t burned and that the flavor is strong enough. If you wish to add more flavor, simply add more herbs and/or spices, and heat again.
5. Once you are satisfied with your creation, strain the oil into a storage container. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
Cold Method for Infusing Oil
1. Lightly crush the herbs and/or spices to release aroma and flavor.
2. Add the crusher herbs and /or spices to the storage container and add oil to fill the container.
3. Place the oil and herb/spice mixture in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.
4. After two weeks, check the flavor of the oil. If the flavor is not strong enough, add more herbs/spices. Store in the refrigerator for up to one month.