Learning how to infuse oils with extra flavor can add variety and spice to your dishes. American cooking techniques frequently rely on the natural deliciousness of oils and fats, but adding a little bit of extra kick can make a remarkable difference in your enjoyment of a meal. Remember that, if you do choose to use these flavored oils, you don’t want to use them for deep-frying. The remaining bits of food inside them will burn and lead to a spoiled taste. Similarly, keep these flavored oils refrigerated until 20 minutes before you want to use them for maximum flavor.
To infuse your oil with lemon, lime or orange flavors, you’ll want to zest the fruit. Organic fruits are best for this – zesting conventionally grown fruit increases your chance of adding pesticides to your oil. You’ll want to zest the organic fruits, and then place the zests in small saucepan in the oil you want to flavor, letting it cook for about 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to fish out the zest while the oil cools.
Not all oil recipes involve heat. If you have a bottle with a strong seal, like a canning jar or a container with a rubber stopper, you’ll be able to get the best-quality infused oil. Take a few of the herbs you want to infuse into your oil and bruise them with your fingertips, then put them in a washed and dried bottle. Pour the olive oil over them and seal the bottle, letting it sit in a cool dark place for 1 – 2 weeks. Be warned that failing to use a bottle with a strong enough seal may allow bacteria to grow, increasing the risk of botulism.
Good herbs for infused olive oil include basil, rosemary, chives and tarragon. These herbs naturally complement the flavor of olive oil. But if you have dill or mint lying around and want to infuse that, no one’s going to stop you.
Tips for use:
There are a number of delicious ways to use these flavored oils. Salad dressings are one major example, but they are also great for drizzling over pasta or for spicing up artisanal breads. If you’re gifting this, make sure that the recipient knows how to store it – they might assume it can stand at room temperature like other oils, which is not the case.