Is there anything better than olive oil and its huge range of varieties to revive any dish and give it smoothness? Well, yes, you can mix olive oil with many flavors and scents that enhance each other, and in turn, take the end product to a completely different level.
That is what today’s article is about. I will show you how to prepare and boost your arsenal of oils. Infusing olive oil is simple, inexpensive, and it will bring benefits to both your health and to your palate.
Table of Contents
- 1 INFUSED OLIVE OIL: STATE OF THE ART
- 2 1.- WHAT IS INFUSED OIL AND HOW DO I USE IT ?
- 3 2.- HOW TO USE INFUSED OLIVE OIL
- 4 3 – . COMPONENTS .
- 5 4.-METHODS FOR INFUSING OLIVE OIL
- 6 5.- HAZARDS IN INFUSED OLIVE OIL
- 7 6.-TRICKS
- 8 7.- ORIENTATIVE QUANTITIES
- 9 8.- EXAMPLES AND RECIPES
- 10 9.- SOURCES AND ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
INFUSED OLIVE OIL: STATE OF THE ART
1.- WHAT IS INFUSED OIL AND HOW DO I USE IT ?
Using good quality olive oil, fresh herbs, and organic ingredients will give you a cleaner and stronger flavor in your finished olive oil. I use it to improve dishes and give them a subtle, interesting touch.
It’s a vinaigrette without the vinegar. Infused Olive Oil is in fact, a vinaigrette without vinegar, and consists of bringing the aromas and flavours from herbs and super-foods (with healthy and aromatic benefits) to the vehicle named Olive Oil.
The objective of making these kind of mixtures is incorporating to olive oil the benefits of all ingredients in a cohesive way. For example, using the antibiotic properties of garlic, the bactericide of chilli pepper, aromatics of truffles, therapeutics from rosemary, etc. This list is only an example, and possibilities are as big as your knowledge or your imagination.
2.- HOW TO USE INFUSED OLIVE OIL
Infused oils can be used in order to improve salad dressings, pasta dishes, glazes for grilled fish and meats, marinades, as an addition to soups and gazpachos, in sandwiches, or to be eaten simply with a piece of crusty bread.
Infused Olive Oil must be used in the same cases than raw olive oil. You can even use it to fry (olive oil makes me fry, sigh..), which can completely change simple dishes. For example, a fried egg with chili pepper infused olive oil is a simply outstanding option.
You can even use infused olive oil for massages, where it’s a good option in helping to relieve tension and improve muscle tone. Infusing olive oil with St John’s Wort, known worldwide as St John’s Wort red oil, is used as a treatment for myriad health issues such as bruises, scratches, swelling and muscle pain, burns, insect bites, and hemorrhoids. Rosemary oil has applications in rheumatism, relief of bruises, headaches and a lot more, too.
3 – . COMPONENTS .
Before turning to the methods of making these infusions, we must review what we will use to make them.
3.1 – . INGREDIENTS
In general, you can use any oil component to provide beneficial properties, whether you use herbs, medicinal plants, citrus fruits, roots, vegetables, or the fruits of the field.
Depending on the type of ingredients being used, pretreatment can be either for maintaining their properties and still yet not affect the stability of the oil.
Among the most used components we can speak of are: rosemary, thyme, basil basil, lemon, pepper, truffle, chervil, basil, parsley, sage, savory, mint, coriander, fennel, asparagus, ginger, etc.
The first thing we can do to ensure success of the infusions is check the quality of the raw materials. You have to make sure that the ingredients do not have any defects, as well as any fruits used aren’t too green or too ripe.
Herbs should be clean with no traces of sand. They should be washed and dried by sun or the open air to prevent any water getting into the infusion. Wetness is where bacteria can thrive. This process must be carefully monitored to prevent losing any flavors with overly dried herbs or ruining the batch with excess moisture.
Spices can be crushed and added, the leaves of wild plants can be used whole, and sliced fruits are good for flavoring your oil.
Generally, you must use common sense and experience to guide you. The ingredients can not be rushed, and demand their own attention. Thus, as I say, flowers, petals and seeds, should be used whole with branches and larger leaves, so they will not break down too much and interfere with each other. The bigger fruits should be sliced or broken depending on the desired intensity of flavor.
3.2. – CONTAINERS
The ideal kinds of containers used in infusion are those that can be closed easily and securely. Glass or Stainless steel recipients are valid choices, but I prefer to have the possibility of taking a look at my oils from time to time, and without a glass container you will not be able to do this unless your name is Clark Kent (famous Olive Oil lover).
3.3.- TYPES OF OILS
We can use a wide range of extra virgin olive oils in the world, from the softer and less bitter ones, to even the strongest, most pungent ones. The innate qualities of oils, and the wide variety of ingredient mixtures give us a wide range of possibilities in bringing out the positive attributes of the oil.
It is not recommended to use oils with a hard personalities to infuse subtle aromas and delicate flavors, as the oil will mask everything. Instead, you can use softer virgin extra for these ingredients.
Of course, I recommend to use Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
4.-METHODS FOR INFUSING OLIVE OIL
Now that we already have the ingredients properly prepared, suitable containers set aside, and we have selected our favorite oil, come on, LET’S GO!
4.1.- Cover with oil
This is the easiest way. You only need to choose your favorite ingredients, prepare them as per earlier instructions, and put them all together with your olive oil. Let the container sit in a dry and fresh place for a month and voila, you’ve got it.
Heat Olive Oil to 40ºc and add herbs into it. Keep in mind that the temperature must not be over this level in order to not lost aromas or burn the ingredients. This way is easy too, and you have the advantage of making small quantities to be used directly in dishes, if you want. This is the traditional way to make an Olive Oil infusions to use while cooking in lots of Mediterranean dishes.
4.3.- Cold Olive Oil Infused.
This is a surprising procedure attributed to Tom Robey, executive chef of Veranda on Highland in Birmingham, Alabama. – See more at: http://www.todaysdietitian.com/healthandnutrition/cooking/make-your-own-herb-infused-oils.shtml.
The procedure is as follows:
Firstly, take a couple cups of salad oil and put it in the freezer for about 45 minutes to 1 hour. “This will keep the herbs cool later on, and the oil doesn’t really freeze; it just becomes thick and syrupy,” he explains.
Take a clean herb such as basil and blanch it very quickly in a tiny bit of water until the water dissipates. “Toss it around in the pan until it turns a brilliant shade of green,” says Robey. “Then remove it and put it in a bowl that is sitting inside a larger bowl of ice to quickly chill the basil as it comes out of the hot skillet. Sure, raw basil would technically work, but blanching keeps the bright color and flavor.”
Next, put the cold oil and basil into a food processor and pulse for about 30 seconds. “If the oil wasn’t really cold at this point, there is just enough heat coming off that blade that would ruin the basil,” Robey adds. Let the green mixture sit for about one hour and then strain through a coffee filter. Herb-infused oils keep for up to six weeks when refrigerated.
4.4.-Double Boiler (Bain Marie)
This procedure, which uses indirect heat, is used when ingredients can not be infused directly with hot heat and Olive Oil due to the possibility of damaging them with direct fire. When using delicate ingredients like vanilla, this is my preferred method of infusion.
I place the herb in the upper pan with olive oil, enough to cover by about 2cms. The lower pan full of water should be brought to a boil. Just heat at a gentle simmer for an hour. Strain out the herb and repeat the process with a fresh batch of the herb as needed.
Finally, filter and bottle.
4.5.-Sun Infused Olive Oil
Sun infusion is commonly used with herbs and flowers such as St John’s Wort or Rosemary. It consists of putting all ingredients into a glass container with Olive Oil, closing it, and letting the mixture rest in the sun for a while. A week is enough, but I find that closer to a month yields better results. All of the herb’s incredible properties will be transferred to the Olive Oil. You can discard old herbs and replace them with new ones, or bottle the oil straight afterwards.
This procedure is used with fresh aromatic herbs, which are delicate and only contain light water content.
(The blood-red colour of St. John’s Wort infused olive oil is especially wonderful.)
4.6.-Mill olives with herbs or spices.
The best way in order to avoid degradation via the humidity of ingredients is, obviously, to mill olives yourself. This is pure and natural, but difficult because not all people have mills in their houses.
This is an easy and reliable method when using fresh or dried herbs that have little in the way of aromatics. Place the herb, chopped if necessary, in an unlidded pan with enough oil to cover the leaves. Bring to a simmer on the hob and then transfer (carefully!) to the oven at approx 150°C – just enough to simmer very gently. Check from time to time until the herb has been completely crisped – evidence that all the water in the herb has evaporated off. When cool enough to handle, strain, filter and bottle. The result often smells as if it’s been slightly burnt, but this clears after a few days.
5.- HAZARDS IN INFUSED OLIVE OIL
Infusions can not hold water, so bacteria do not grow in the oil. They can, however, grow in the water containing ingredients we put in the oil.
There are several methods to prevent bacteria ruining your herbs before infusion: refrigerating, drying them in the sun, or putting them in vinegar.
Some olive oil varieties such as Picual can last much longer than other varieties, but when some oils are mixed with other ingredients in infusions, the pH of the oil changes and this duration of goodness is much reduced depending on the ingredients used.
Besides that, it’s important to note that the more delicate flavors will require the longest processing time.
Botulism is definitely a concern when making any kind of infused olive oil, especially with garlic-infused olive oil. Infused olive oil will generally keep for up to one month, especially if kept refrigerated. If the ingredients in the olive oil start to show any signs of spoilage, discard the rest of the oil immediately.
Use the flavored oil to enhance your dishes in ways that you would usually use the ingredients. For example, try using oregano oil with pasta.
Experiment with your herbs, mushrooms, and preferred fruits to build your vocabulary of flavors and possibilities.
Try a cilantro infusion with a little mint and lime zest, and use it in mojitos. Your friends will never forget your telephone number.
Combine new ingredients to achieve amazing effects, such as garlic and basil, rosemary with basil, lemon and mint, etc.
When fresh herbs are used, allow them to wilt in a warm place in order to reduce their water content before proceeding. Keep in mind that the time spent drying your herbs affects the aromas of the herbs. The more time spent drying, the more potency of taste and smell will be lost.
Check your oils often. If the oil develops a neutral smell, or there are water drops at the bottom, discard it.
Over your bottle, place a paper with information about date and ingredients (also olive oil used). These labels will help you choose the right oil for the job, and also remind you of its subtle qualities.
7.- ORIENTATIVE QUANTITIES
7.1.-Recommended Flavor Amounts per 250mL (8fl. oz) Oil
|Chili Peppers (Seedless)||15g||½ oz|
|Citrus Zest||40g||1-1/4 oz|
|Ginger root||25g||1 oz|
|Dried mushrooms||15g||½ oz|
|Peppercorns||10 each||10 each|
8.- EXAMPLES AND RECIPES
After this long-winded explanation of the state of the art of Infused Olive Oil, I’ll show you three recipes that should give you a general guideline to begin experimenting with your favorite ingredients.
8.1.-OLIVE OIL INFUSED WITH ROSEMARY
1 ltr of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary.
A pinch of salt.
I will use fresh rosemary for this infusion. Clean the herbs with water to get rid of any dirt or sand, then dry them with cellulose paper. Grind the rosemary and put it into a clean glass jar with the olive oil and add a little salt. Mix well, cover, and let it work for one month.
– 2 cloves of peeled garlic.
– A pint of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Insert peeled garlic in the jar they will be infused. Fill the bottle with extra virgin olive oil and marinate. Garlic can be added peeled or chopped. Soaking time:
– 1, 2 months.
– A pint of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
– Half a lemon.
– Fine salt.
Cut the lemon into slices, spread on a plate and pour over a little table salt.
Leave the plate with lemon slices to rest for half an hour. Pour the juices that the lemon slices have released from the plate into the infusion jar or bottle. Add the lemon slices and fill with extra virgin olive oil.
– 40 days.
9.- SOURCES AND ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
I want to thank to people who help me with this 2000 words post ( it’s really hard), and sources I read in order to get the most accurate information about this issue.
I hope you find useful this article. I try to give helpful and summarized info.
You can link this info with other articles in this website, for example, you can use these kind of hand-made oils in order to practise your EROTIC MASSAGE, or discover uses of these oils in OLIVE OIL SEX.
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