Home Made Herb Oils – Flavour Redefined
Infused oils are a rather big deal these days among foodies, having made their way from the tables of the finest Italian restaurants to the shelves of every supermarket and corner shop gracing the land. They’re hard not to fall in love with – all the wonderful flavours of the world’s favourite herbs and spices locked in a delicious virgin olive oil – it’s the stuff foodie dreams are made of!
But here’s a newsflash for infusion fans – even the best store bought herb oils are rather paltry imitators to those you can make at home to your own unique tastes. Why? Simple really – most of the oils you’ll find in the supermarket have been processed half to death and contain any number of preservatives in order to ensure they stay ‘fresh’ for months on end.
Admittedly, a homemade herb oil won’t last quite this long, but chances are you’ll have quaffed the lot long before it’s even had time to think about expiring! It really couldn’t be easier to give it a try and for those lucky enough to have their own herb gardens, it’s the kind of treat you’ll wish you had lavished upon yourself years ago!
DIY Herb Oil Method
Choose the herbs and spices you’d like to flavour the oil with in accordance with your tastes. If you’re not sure where to get started, the most popular herbs to use for infusions are basil, oregano, rosemary and thyme – all of which are worth trying out.
Give all of the herbs a good rinse, though just as important as the rinsing is the subsequent drying. You’re trying to ensure you get as little water as possible into the oil, so don’t scrimp on the drying times!
Select the ideal jars or bottles for the oils, with air-tight lids, and repeat steps one and two, that is, give them a good wash and dry ensuring they are sterilised.
To release the flavour of your herbs, you’ll need to ‘bruise’ them a little before putting them into the jars. You can either bash them lightly with a rolling pin or just crush them lightly in your hands. Once bruised, put a few herbs in the jar – you’ll need no more than a sprig or two to flavour a standard-sized jar of oil.
Measure the precise amount of oil you need and heat it in a pan. You don’t want the oil to be hot as cooking the herbs is not on the agenda – it just needs to be warm enough to extract the flavours.
Pour the oil over the herbs and allow to cool slightly before screwing the lid back on tightly. You’ll now need to leave the jar in a cool, dark and dry place to infuse for about a week or so – technically you can use the oil any time, but the flavour will improve with time.
As a rule of thumb, most infused oils will last for around two months, though you can extend their shelf life by sieving out the herbs and storing them in the fridge.