Making Infused Oils

How to Make Infused Oils

Olive and vegetable oils can be infused with herbs, spices or other aromatic ingredients (except garlic) to give them a distinctive flavor and color. The simplest way to make infused oils is just to stick whole herbs on the stem into a bottle of oil and let it stand for a couple of weeks, until the oil takes on the taste of the herb. Chopping or pureeing the herb, or heating the oil, speeds up the process so that the oil can be used sooner.

Gently heating the oil, as for dried mushroom oil, helps to extract maximum flavor from the ingredient. Heat woody herbs such as thyme, rosemary and marjoram without losing flavor, but the flavor of fragile herbs such as basil and parsley (any herb that doesn't dehydrate well) is destroyed by heating.

Infused oils can be used in any sauce in which you'd use a plain vegetable or olive oil (such as vinaigrettes or mayonnaises), or as flavoring or sauces in themselves, drizzled over foods instead of a sauce, Infused oils can also be used for gentle sautéing, as for breaded foods, when the heat isn't so high that it would destroy the flavor of the oil.

Basil Oil -

  • Combine washed and dried basil leaves in a food processor with just enough extra virgin olive oil to get the mixture to turn around.

  • Puree the mixture for about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the processor bowl with a rubber spatula every 20 seconds or so. Transfer to a bowl.

  • Add additional extra virgin olive oil to cover the pureed basil leaves generously.

  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let infuse overnight at room temperature.

  • Strain the oil through a fine-mesh sieve or a strainer lined with a triple layer of cheesecloth.

  • Transfer to glass bottles. Store at room temperature up to a month.

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