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You’ve all seen them; specialty herbed oils sold at high prices either online or at even more exorbitant prices at the farmers’ market.
Have you thought about making your own? It is super easy and takes a very small amount of time to produce a scrumptious and healthy alternative to many unhealthy commercial products and is another great way to preserve your herbs.
Which Herbs Should I Use?
Choosing the right combination of ingredients for your herbed oil depends on your personal preferences and the desired use the liquid.
If you want a delicious oil to use for your next stir fry meal, tailor your selection of herbs to meet your taste in stir fry.
Looking for something to toss on a fresh salad? Consider your likes and the ingredients most commonly used in salad dressings.
If you already grow your own garden, you probably already know what you like. If you must purchase the ingredients, then make sure that you purchase fresh herbs (preferably those grown without pesticides).
Choose “perfect” specimens as these will be on display in your bottle. Choose stems with attractively arranged leaves with no broken, bent, or damages leaves or stems.
Remember a small portion of each plant will go a long. Don’t over buy at this point. There is plenty of time to purchase more for future batches.
Some herbs, like Purple Basil, will change the color of your oil. This does not harm the concoction and may add to the attractiveness of your finished product. For a striking effect, consider adding dried edible flowers, like Nasturtiums (That is if you like the flavor of Nasturtiums).
Unless you intend to use your blend within a few days, your herbs must be dried before adding to your oil. Fresh examples have moisture in them and will provide a vehicle for botulism to form if added before drying.
The water content will form a bubble that allows botulism to form and grow. If you choose to make a quick oil with fresh vegetation then you should refrigerate and use within a few days.
Always wash your herbs to remove any impurities. Fold the wet plant matter in a paper towel and press gently to remove excess water. Gather small bundles and tie together.
I like to use small elastics for this as the stems may shrink a little and the elastic will shrink right along with it and keep your bundle secure. Hang these bundles by the stem in a cool well-ventilated area to dry completely.
You may wish to use your food dehydrator for drying the plant matter, but be careful not to over dry them, as they will become very brittle and may be difficult to insert in your bottle. To determine if your herbs are sufficiently dried, break a small section of the thickest portion. They should snap and not bend.
Choose an Oil
You may wish to use extra virgin olive oil to take advantage of the associated health benefits. It is a full bodied oil that imparts a wonderful golden hue to your finished product, but it is not the only choice. You can use Canola, Peanut, or even Safflower oil.
Lighter varieties will produce stronger effects from the extraction. Consider your own tastes and desires when choosing your products.
Choose Your Bottles
The Bormioli Rocco Swing Bottle is available in three sizes, 8, 17, and 34 ounces via Amazon
You have many options available at your local retail stores. You may want to purchase decorative bottles. Make sure they are clear so that they are able to show off your finished product and that they have a cork or cap that seals tightly. You may wish to use used bottles – wine and Champaign bottles work dandily.
Wash & Dry
Thoroughly wash the bottles in hot soapy water and dry completely. Running them through the dishwasher on the top rack should do the trick. Be certain they are completely dry.
Select perfectly formed examples from your selection of dried stock. They should be ¼ shorter than the height, from the bottom to the beginning of the neck, of the bottle you have chosen.
Choose one or two different varieties to add to your mixture. The resulting flavor is difficult to predict if you use too many kinds of herbs in one bottle.
You may wish to add dried spices to kick up the flavor, but be aware that one or two peppercorns can add a lot of flavor. Use caution until you have experience with making herbed oils.
Do not add fresh garlic. If you really want the garlic flavor, it is recommended that you purchase a product in the store that has already been packed in oil. These usually come in small jars sold near the produce and are already minced for you. (Check the instructions on the package to see if you need to keep the garlic refrigerated).
Read more about storing garlic.
Insert Your Herbs
Carefully insert your herbs into the bottle you have chosen. Inserting them with the stem down, will cause the leaves to fold inward as you insert them. Once the liquid is added, the leaves will unfold slightly. Use tweezers or a dowel to arrange them in the bottle in an attractive arrangement.
Using a funnel, gently pour the oil over the herbs until it reaches the bottom of the neck. Your herbs should float freely to the top of the liquid. Wipe the top of the bottle and cap tightly.
Steeping Your Mixture
Let your bottles in a cool dry place out of direct light for approximately a month to allow the flavor of the herbs to disperse.
Design and print decorative labels from your computer. List the ingredients and the bottling date. You might even want to give your particular blend of ingredients a special name. Be creative. It’s your invention.
Print labels on heavy paper stock. Although white will do, consider a colored stock that will contrast with your extraction. Attach to bottle neck with a piece of decorative string or rope.
Tie a piece of ribbon into a simple bow and you have not only created your own herbed oil, but your have created a personalized gift for that herb enthusiast on your list.
About Lynne Jaques
Lynne is a stay-at-home mother of two boys. As a former US military officer and the spouse of an active duty US military member, Lynne enjoys traveling the world (although not the moving part!) and finding new cuisine and methods of preparing food. She also has the habit of using parenthesis way too much!