Infused oils - four techniques for creating

Yield: 1 Informed

Measure Ingredient
\N \N Oil, Infused
\N \N Homemade

Here are some guidelines for making your own infused oil. Always sterilize the bottles into which you will put the oil. Wine bottles are a good choice, but you may want to use smaller containers, such as cruets, because the flavor of infused oil, like all oils, deteriorates with age. Don't use more expensive extra-virgin oil to make infused oils. Because you are introducing flavors into the oil, you do not need or want the often peppery or perfumey flavor that is intrinsic in fine first pressings of olives. Don't exclude grape seed and canola oils, especially for flavors such as ginger, mint, and mustard. In his book "Marinades" (Crossing Press), Jim Tarantino says that he uses grape seed oil for steeping fresh herbs. When he is heating the oil to make infusions with dried chilies, mushrooms, curry, dried lemon grass or other Asian spices, he prefers light peanut or canola oil. Pure good-quality olive oil is a good match for spices and herbs ~- rosemary, oregano and the like -- with Mediterranean character. After the flavoring ingredients are placed in the oil, keep the bottle in a cook, dark place while it is infusing. Crumple and bruise herbs such as basil before adding them to the oil to help the flavor and aroma to escape. These are four main techniques for infusing oil: | 1. Simply clean herbs (or use dried ones) drop them in a bottle of oil and allow to sit in a cool dark place for at least two weeks. This technique does not produce an oil with added color. |

2. Blanch an herb such as basil in boiling water for a second or two, pat dry with paper towels, puree the herb with a bit of oil and then add it to more oil. After a few days, strain the oil. This method has produced lightly tinted, highly flavorful but sometimes muddy-looking oil. When omitting the pureeing step, and simply adding the blanched herb to the oil, the result is a highly flavored, fragrant oil, but not one that changed color. | 3. Warm the oil in a microwave for a few minutes, in a saucepan over medium heat, or in a double boiler. You can add the infusion ingredients while warming the oil, or drop them in after the oil is warm. This method is speedier.

It produces flavorful oil in a day or two. | 4. Make a paste. This method comes into play when using dried spices. As described by James Peterson in his book, "Sauces" (Van Nostrand, Reinhold $39.95), ground spices (as well dehydrated foods such as dried mushrooms) must be moistened before being combined with oil. | Then, if using ground spices, make a paste with an equal amount of water before whisking the paste into a quart of oil. Allow to stand for a week before straining. The author made an interesting cardamon oil and an orange curry oil this way.

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