Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Technique Tuesday: Infused oils

Infusing oil is a simple technique with endless possibilities! It makes a great gift and is sure to impress any dinner guests to whom you serve it. There are so many different things you can add to oil to give it new and delicious flavor. I absolutely love the taste of olive oil infused with fresh herbs and dried peppers. It's one of my favorite things in the world! There are just a few simple things to know before trying your hand at infusing. Below are some tips to ensure that you make a wonderful infused oil that you will be proud to share with friends and family.

1. Types of oil
You can infuse just about any oil. I recommend extra virgin olive oil though. It makes for a delicious dipping liquid and is great tossed with parmesan and pasta. I do suggest staying away from oils that have strong flavors of their own such as peanut or sesame oil.
2. Technique
Use a mortar and pestle (or food processor if you don't have a mortar and pestle available) to grind up your herbs before adding them to the oil. Once you've added your infusing ingredients to the bottle, make sure to seal it well. World Market has some great little oil bottles with rubber corks that help ensure a tight seal (not to mention being pretty!).

3. Timing
You want to give your oil at least 2 weeks to soak up the flavors before serving. The longer you wait to open your bottle, the more pronounced your infused flavors will be.

4. Storage
Keep your dried herb infused oils in a cool dry place to avoid them going rancid more quickly. For oils infused with fresh ingredients such as zest, herbs or garlic, store in the refrigerator.

Spicy Garlic Infused Oil:
1 pint of extra virgin olive oil
5 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced in half
1 tablespoon of red pepper flake

Add garlic and red pepper flake to oil and allow flavors to meld for at least 2 weeks for the best taste. Make sure to keep this oil in the refrigerator since you are adding garlic cloves.

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