Did You Know You Could Infuse Your Own Olive Oil?
Since the quarantine started in mid-March, a lot of us were left with some unexpected free time, probably WAY more than what we knew what to do with. Maybe you were able to work from home, or maybe you were able to finally start that novel you always wanted to write. Some of you may have put on gloves and turned to honing your green thumb these past couple of months. However, it’s now August and your garden is overflowing with basil, rosemary, and countless other herbs. What should you do with them? Well, we have the answer you’ve been looking for. You can make your own infused olive oil! It may seem like a daunting task, but if you’ve made your own tea before, it’s not that different. The process involves steeping your ingredients in heated olive oil, filtering through a strainer, and then storing in the fridge. Doesn’t seem that hard, does it?
HOW DO I INFUSE MY OWN OLIVE OIL?
When it comes to infusing your own olive oils, you first have to decide which flavour. You can do rosemary, thyme, basil, or a combination of these. Or try a citrus olive oil by using lemon rinds. Your second step is then picking which oil you’re going to infuse with. Extra virgin olive oil, as explained in our blog post about olive oil hierarchy, has the most health benefits of all olive oils but its strong flavour does have the potential to overpower the overall taste of some infusions. Our Spanish Arbequina EVOO's mild and fruity flavour is your best choice for infusions that call for extra-virgin olive oil. Pure olive oil, or neutral oils like canola, while not so beneficial for our health, will not compete with the other ingredients. The following recipes already specify which olive oil to use so you won’t have to worry about that.
The first method of infusing your olive oils, which comes from Country Cleaver, involves crushing 2-3 sprig herbs with a mortar and pestle and then combining this with 2 cups of extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Simmer for two minutes, turn off heat, and steep for two hours. Filter with a fine strainer and store in the fridge for up to two weeks!
Another method, by Meghan Yager from Foodal, says to blend one cup of fresh herbs and 2 cups of pure olive oil together in a blender, simmer over medium heat for 45 seconds, and strain with a fine mesh strainer. After that, you will strain again, this time with a coffee strainer. Pour into an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to a week.
If you're looking for a citrus flavour, Brit+Co’s recipe for lemon-infused oil calls for simmering ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil with the peel of one lemon over low heat for twenty minutes. Strain out the peels, and just like the previous recipes, pour into an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to two weeks. You can also use this recipe for an herb-flavoured olive oil; the amount of oil doesn't change.
WHY SHOULD I INFUSE MY OWN OLIVE OIL?
The benefits to making your own olive oil are plentiful. Not only do you save money, you know there’s no hidden ingredients because you made it yourself. They also make great gifts to give to your friends and family (Christmas is only a few months away). Not to mention the sense of pride that comes with making something yourself. Once you’ve mastered one infusion, try combining different flavours, or doubling the recipe to give to multiple people. Use this chance to get creative with different jars and labels from your favourite crafts store.
It’s important to note that, when infusing with fresh ingredients, there is always a risk of bacterial growth or botulism. This risk is greatly reduced when you heat the olive oil, but it is not completely eliminated. It is safest to use dry ingredients. Any oil that smells or tastes “off” should be thrown out.
If you've been thinking about starting a garden of your own, maybe the idea of infusing your own oils will inspire you to get started. Mix them with your favourite Aurelius balsamic vinegar and there’s your new salad vinaigrette. Alternatively, they are also great for sautéing your vegetables, adding to mashed potatoes, over meats, marinades, pizza; so what are you waiting for? The possibilities are endless!