How to Make Beautiful and Tasty Herbed Oils

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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.

How to Make Beautiful and Tasty Herbed Oils | Foodal.com

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.

Parsley, Thyme, Oregano, Laurel, Basil, Onion, and Garlic (queue the Simon and Garfunkel) are some of the more common components of commercial 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.

Colored Oil

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).

Drying

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.

Drying Herbs | Foodal.com

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.

Preparation

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.

Adding Oil

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

Steeping an mixture of herbs in oil | Foodal.com

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.

Print Labels

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.

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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!

22 thoughts on “How to Make Beautiful and Tasty Herbed Oils

  1. Is there still the risk of botulism for making herb infused oils like in making garlic oil? I am always scared of making infused oils because of all the things I’ve read about people getting food poisoning from infused oils.

  2. You can get food poisoning from infused oils, specifically botulism. It is extremely important to store them in the fridge, and use them within the week. This being the case, you would only want to make as much as you plan to use in a week so that you don’t waste oil and herbs.

    • Well that is scary! While this was certainly an inspiring post, maybe I’ll hold off doing this for when I can get the right equipment/time… I tend to rush things and think ‘that’ll do’ but I certainly don’t want to be giving myself botulism!

  3. I had thought about making my own chilli and garlic oil, but wasn’t sure whether it was worth it. A Basil oil would be really useful to add to pasta and rice dishes and to add flavor without adding salt.

    I also love flavored oils with focaccia, so will experiment, though as it takes a month to seep I will have to be patient.

  4. If i really concentrate hard enough and be serious as well, i could just follow the said steps above, not only make my own homemade oils but i could make for my friends and before i know it, i have a business gaining momentum towards prosperity!

  5. I don’t get it. How is it that herbs need to be dried and garlic should not be used fresh, but that is how pesto is made, with fresh basil and fresh garlic?

    Nonetheless it does make for a beautiful gift. On many wedding websites, it is suggested to make mini bottles of infused olive oil to give as party favors. Nobody needs to be an herb enthusiast to enjoy some gorgeous bottle containing a delicious oil!

  6. These oils look great and it is certainly cheaper to make your own. They cost a fortune at the deli. Having said that, I had no idea that there was a risk of botulism associated with them. Is it connected with using unsterilized bottles by any chance?

  7. I’ve been looking for an article like this! My mom is an avid cook, so for her birthday I wanted to make her some infused oils. I was considering just dropping some fresh herbs in oil, but that’s not going to work! The information on botulism was really important to include; I think I may have just saved a couple lives!

  8. Recently, I read a few things that mentioned the dangers of putting garlic in homemade oils. I was wondering if anyone has any suggestions as to how one can incorporate garlic without the added dangers? I love the flavour & I’ve heard there’s a short time between using a garlic oil & that oil being dangerous.

  9. Not only is this a great idea for personal use I can’t help but think this would make a really sweet gift. I have a lot of women in my life who are hard to buy gifts for and I can think of a few that would really appreciate the thought and work put into this. I am wondering if a roasted garlic oil if used quick enough would pose less dangers then mentioned above? Maybe in a small enough quantity?

    • Oooh, I love this! These always look so pretty. I’d like to have a few bottles in my own kitchen. Yeah, they’d also make really nice gifts. I’m thinking housewarming, hostess gift, or even Christmas would be nice. Maybe small bottles, so they get used up before they have a chance to go rancid?

      I really want to make these now.

  10. I love the look of these, and pre-made bottles are usually out of my budget, so I might consider doing this. I think if I do, I will look into the miniature bottles, or at least small ones, because I would want to use them fairly quickly. I am not able to eat garlic, so that wouldn’t be a consideration, but I like the idea of using the purple basil, or maybe using colored bottles.

  11. I was really excited about this idea until I read the comments. The fact that you have to use it within a week or risk food poisoning is really making me not love this idea. If this was a project that I could do once a month and use them for a few weeks, I would be all in, but it seems like a lot of work to make these on a weekly basis.

  12. I was hoping to make some herbed oils as Christmas presents this year. But learning how much care you have to take in making them and the rish of food poisoning (from the comments) is a little scary. I might pick up another DIY project for gift giving. This seems a bit too risky for beginners to try out.

  13. I have a small herb garden going right now and I have no idea what to do with them! Reading this article made me really excited because I finally thought I found a solution but now I’m worried about food poisoning. Has anyone tried this and got food poisoning? Or know a way to do this without the risk of food poisoning? I love using oils like this but can never afford them. Thanks for the tips anyways, Lynne!

  14. I always see herb infused oil in home and cooking stores. I don’t actually use them but I’d imagine they would taste similar to using oil and fresh herbs. I also see a lot of gift sets with herb infused oils. I fee like these would make great gifts for the holidays or as shower favors.

  15. I had no idea that using fresh herbs and garlic in infused oils could allow botulism to grow. I though oil was one way to preserve them but I guess not that reliably. I’ll have to remember to use dried varieties for infused oils I won’t use within a few days. Adding food grade essential oils may be another option to add in their place. They won’t look pretty but it would be safe to store and use indefinitely. Using an EO would probably be something you would want to add at the end for a finishing touch, though, so as not to diminish the flavor.

  16. These oils are wonderful and easy to make. In a nice bottle with a pretty label they will make a great gift too 🙂
    I have never tried to make herb infused oils, but feel inspired to try now. Thanks for the tip on drying the herbs first to prevent botulism, I did not know this.

  17. Wow, I never thought about making my own herbed oil. I definitely need to do this. I can think of so many ones I would love to make. And they would look beautiful all lined up next to each other in bottles of varying sizes. It doesn’t get any better than edibility and aesthetics in one. Can we add a couple of drops of essential oil to the olive oil as well? I think certain herbs won’t impart as much flavor as others. Perhaps I should just let them steep longer. Does the flavor seep out more the longer it’s been imparted? Can I add mustard seeds to the oil as well? I need to look up some pretty designs and yummy combinations. I think this would make a wonderful gift for people who love to cook.

  18. I haven’t seen people use herbed oils before, but the other day looking through my friend’s amazon wishlist I saw them and I wondered why this person would want them, but since they live alone and they’re a big fan of natural things (especially when it comes to food) it all makes sense now, and as you’ve said, they are kind of expensive, but I can see why, it seems to be a tricky and long process.
    But I think that I didn’t really get the point of them, do you use them as salad dressings, or just a substitute of regular oil?

  19. You know this is one of those areas of cooking where I cannot help but appreciate and factor in the artistic side, and here particularly it manifests itself in the shape of the bottle. I am not sure what it is, but the whole herb oil just lends itself to noticing the appearance more, and when you got the fancy looking bottle I think that it adds a certain something. It also helps because these can make great gifts, and so you want those to look nice. Thanks for sharing.

  20. This is something that I never even imagined was possible to do at home. This is going to change the way I cook forever. I’m so excited about creating my own herbed oils and possibly saving a lot of money in the process. This is a really great and informative article. And thanks for the idea of using them as gifts.

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