Handmade Infused Oils
Homemade infused oils are a wonderfully instant way of adding an extra shot of flavor to your cooking, salads and marinades. They make a perfect gift for food lovers and serious cooks alike, so bottle a selection of flavored oils and add gift labels, or include one or two in a gift basket. Good flavorings to use include fresh herbs, garlic, whole spices, pink peppercorns or dried chilies.
Infused oils have the potential to support the growth of bacteria, so you should follow the procedures for bottling flavored oils carefully, and make sure that any ingredients you use are washed and thoroughly dried first. Use pretty recycled bottles or jars for these oils.
bottles or jars for storing
1 large sprig (about 6 in.) of rosemary
3-4 large ribbons of lemon peel
3-4 whole chilies
2 cups light olive oil
1. It's important to sterilize all bottles or jars and their lids before adding any ingredients. After washing, place them upside down in a cold oven and heat them for 10–15 minutes at 300 degrees F. Leave them upside down on a clean cloth until you are ready to use them so dust or dirt, which could contaminate the oils, can't be trapped inside. Tip: Alternatively, you can boil the bottles in a large saucepan covered with water for 15 minutes, dry them thoroughly with a fresh clean cloth and turn them upside down on another cloth until they are ready to be used.
2. Make the flavored oil a week before you want to give it as a gift. For Rosemary oil, bruise a large sprig of fresh rosemary with the end of a rolling pin. For Lemon oil use 3-4 large ribbons of lemon peel, and for Chili oil use 3-4 whole chilies cut in half lengthwise.
3. Put your choice of dry ingredients into a clear, sterilized glass bottle (at least 2 cups in capacity) and add 2 cups of light olive oil. Make sure the dry ingredients stay below the surface of the oil, or they may turn moldy.
4. Secure the lid firmly and shake well once a day for a week to allow the flavors to develop. Add a gift label with instructions to store the oil in the fridge and use within a week.
DK - A Greener Christmas, 2008 Dorling Kindersley Limited