I’ve been dabbling with making my own infused oils. Specifically chili, garlic and herb oils. It’s great fun, easy to do and only as expensive as the olive oil you buy. Which means you can start low budget with a less expensive brand and use the bottle in came in mix your ingredients. After six months testing out different mixtures I’ve decided this is going to be a staple item in our kitchen. I’m completely hooked on homemade chili and garlic oil.
Back in October, 2011, my infusion adventure began with two smalls jars and some rather posh extra virgin olive oil on super sale. One jar was filled with chili flakes, the other with chopped garlic and both were topped-up with the evoo. It took less than a week for the oil to be infused and less than a month for the contents to be consumed. When the oil dipped below half a jar I topped it off with more olive oil. Let it rest a few days to re-infuse. Worked like a charm.
The two jars lasted, on a steady top-up basis, until the end of November. By then I thought it would be fun to make infused oil as Christmas gifts for family. We had a glut of dried herbs from our garden which I used as the main ingredient along with tiny dried chilies from our chili plant and peppercorns. As I had all the ingredients at the ready, I took advantage of the situation to make a fresh, much larger bottle for us as well. But rather than making two separate small jars I mixed the chili and garlic together with peppercorns and a bay leaf were also added to test the mix of flavors.
After much debate I decided to use a light olive oil to allow for cooking at a high heat. Where as before the evoo version was better as a dressing rather than being cooked. Once again, when the oil started dipping low, I topped-up with more olive oil (regular this time, not light nor extra virgin) as well as chili flakes and peppercorns. Then waited a few days to re-infuse. Success, sweet hot success.
We use our infused oil nearly every day. It’s amazing drizzled on fried eggs, to soften veg and onions as part of a soup base, dressing a salad, on roasted veg, in sauces, on chicken, the list is long and delicious.
The thing I enjoy the most about making infused oil is the versatility. As with all handmade things the options and variety available is limited only by your imagination, and pocket book. Use what’s already in your pantry. Or your garden if you’re lucky enough to have one. There’s no need to go buy expensive ingredients. Unless of course you want to and your budget allows. For instance, I’d love to use juniper berries, but haven’t found a reliable local or online source.
I’m interested to hear about your infused oil adventures. What worked, what didn’t and what are your favourite ingredients? Please leave your tips, warnings and feedback in our comments section!
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