Just For Fun

Day 2 of Gift Giving: DIY Flavored Oils

Flavored oils are one of today’s hot items in the food world. They are such a great gift to give people for any occasion and will really mix it up in the kitchen when you cook with them. I had received a message from my mom’s friend Paulette about how to make oils and for more information about them a few months ago, and I knew I wanted to wait until the holidays to post something about them. So Paulette, this post is for you!

Flavored oils are about the easiest thing a person could choose to make in the kitchen. What you may not know is how prone to bacteria these oils are. Natural oils that you buy in a grocery store are easily stored at room temperature. There is nothing to promote bacteria and a regular vegetable oil or olive oil will stay bacteria free for many months, even years. Infused oils are a little different because of the added herbs and citruses. The increased moisture makes oils very bacteria prone, which is why it is so important to make them correctly! They are also much better off in the refrigerator than being stored at room temperature. The holidays are a time for giving gifts not a time for giving illness. So here are some tips on how to make flavored oils, store them safely, and a bunch of ways to use them!

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Making Flavored Oils: 

  • You can make flavored oils with any type of oil. I prefer to use a blend of vegetable oil (2/3) and olive oil (1/3). This gives the oil the most flavor and also a high temperature cooking point, so the oil can be used for marinades and high temperature cooking.
  • Oils can be made in three ways, through traditional infusion, cold infusion or hot infusion. Traditional infusion is simply bottling room temperature oil and room temperature herbs and storing them. The infusion can take only a few hours to fully taste the flavors, but may take as long as a week. It is best to use fresh herbs (not dried) and to slice your ingredients so that they are exposed to the oil. Garlic, ginger, shallots, etc… should all be sliced for the best flavor.  
  • Cold infusion involves blending the oil in a mixer, straining it, and storing it immediately in the refrigerator. This method is also best with all fresh ingredients. Blend everything together, strain into a funnel, and store in the refrigerator. Fresh slices of ingredients like garlic and citrus zest can be added back into the bottle for aesthetics. 
  •  Hot infusion is the method used most by restaurants and industrial food operations. This is the ideal method for using dried spices. **Always use WHOLE, dry spices and not ground spices. You don’t want your oil to look cloudy and messy, you want it to be flavorful. Whole cumin seeds, curry seeds, cinnamon sticks, fennel seeds, etc… are the best used in this method. Lightly crush the spices to release their natural oils before cooking. To hot infuse an oil, heat the desired oil and spices to 180-200 degrees. It should never start to boil. Strain the oil, if desired, into the storage bottle and seal it immediately. After the oil has reached room temperature, store in the refrigerator. 

Storing Flavored Oils: 

  • Always, ALWAYS buy bottles that can be sealed off when you are making flavored oils. Screw cap options are the best, but you can also find corked bottles that work fine. If you are giving them as gifts for decoration and practical use, you’ll want to find a completely clear or slightly tinted bottle for best results. 
  • Choose the size of the container based on what kind of oil you are making. If you are making a citrus oil that is very potent, and intended for finishing a dish with just a few drops, buy a small bottle! If you are making versatile cooking and salad dressing oils, buy a larger bottle to indicate the intended use.
  • Store the oils in the refrigerator or in a cool, dark cabinet. It is best to keep them out of direct sunlight after they have been infused.
  • Oils will usually last for 2-3 months in correct conditions. If the oil starts to change color or texture, it may have gone rancid.

Using Flavored Oils: 

  • Now for the best part! Oils are incredibly versatile in the kitchen. You can use them for anything from marinades to salad dressings, finishing products and dipping oils. Adding flavors to them before cooking helps amplify the flavor profile you are trying to achieve. 

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Here are the recipes for the oils I made today: Rosemary Lemon & Garlic Oil, and Cilantro Garlic & Lime Oil.

Rosemary Lemon & Garlic Oil
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup olive oil
1 large sprig fresh rosemary
2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 lemon, rind cut off with a knife into segments

  • You can make this oil using traditional infusion or hot infusion. 
  • For traditional infusion, combine all of the ingredients in your desired oil bottle and let sit in a dark and cool cabinet. It may take only a few hours or as long as one week to see desired results.
  • For immediate use, use hot infusion. Put all of the ingredients in a medium sauce pan. Heat the oil slowly until it reaches 180 degrees. Use a meat thermometer to let you know when it’s done. Gently pour the oil through a funnel into the bottle and seal immediately. When the oil is at room temperature, place in the refrigerator for permanent use.
  • This oil can be used as an appetizer for dipping bread into. It can be used for marinating meats including steaks, briskets, and roasts. It’s also a good oil for roasting winter vegetables like squash, carrots, and potatoes.

Cilantro Garlic & Lime Oil 
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup + 1 handful packed cilantro leaves
2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 limes, zested
1 lime, rind cut off with a knife into segments

  • You can make this oil using traditional infusion or cold infusion.
  • For traditional infusion, combine all of the ingredients in your desired oil bottle and let sit in a dark and cool cabinet. It may take only a few hours or as long as one week to see desired results.
  • For immediate use, use cold infusion. Put the oils, 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, garlic cloves, and 2 limes zested into and blender and pulse well to combine. Strain the oil into a funnel and into your oil bottle. For decorative purposes, add another handful of cilantro leaves and the rind of the 3rd lime into the bottle. Seal and refrigerate for permanent use.
  • This oil can be used in salad dressing for southwest salads. It’s a great marinade for fish and chicken fajitas. It can also be used as a cooking oil for Thai, Indian, and Mexican recipes.

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1 thought on “Day 2 of Gift Giving: DIY Flavored Oils”

  1. Dear Jamie,

    Thank you so much for this posting. I feel honored and appreciate your thoughtful and detailed study about oils, really a wonderful writing and production of work!

    Your fan,
    Paulette

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