|Making Olive Oil Infusions|
Infusions are the one time when you want to choose clear glass bottles in which to store olive oil -- part of the enjoyment of enjoying the oil mixtures is to see the ingredients inside, especially if you plan to give your infusions as gifts.
Here are some tips from my app, Olive Oil IQ, which will help you make flavored olive oils which are both beautiful and tasty:
1. Select bottles that are 1/2, 3/4 or one full liter. One/half liter bottles are perfect for gifts. Wash the bottles carefully and let them dry completely before making infusions. If there are still tiny drops of water inside, try swishing a few drops of alcohol inside and turn upside down to dry. The water will roll out and the alcohol will evaporate. Be sure to use pure alcohol that is for human consumption, not rubbing alcohol.
2. Plan to use ingredients that are dried, not freshly picked (except for lemon, see below). If the rosemary, sage, basil, peppers, or other herbs still contain water when you infuse them, a clear slimy substance may form on the leaves a week or so after they are in the oil. This can not only spoil the look of your infusion, it can be dangerous to consume. The first time I made infusions, I used fresh rosemary and sage from my garden. Before I could give it as gifts, I ended up throwing it all away because something weird was growing inside.
3. Lemon olive oil can be made by using either fresh or cooked lemon peels. For a liter of oil, the my favorite way is an easy recipe from the 1993 cookbook, The Frugal Gourmet Cooks Italian. Peel six fresh lemons, being sure not to include any pith. Crush the peel for a minute in a mortar with about 1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil. Put the grated peel in a jar that will hold more than a liter and add 4 cups of olive oil. Close tightly and leave in a cool dark cupboard for four days. Strain the oil into a decorative 1-liter bottle.
4. Of course, you only want to use good extra virgin olive oil for infusions. Be sure to taste your oil before adding any other ingredients to be sure it isn't rancid or spoiled in some way. This oil is meant to be consumed soon after it has attained its flavor.
5. Decorate your bottles as you wish and keep them in a cool, dark place until you are ready to deliver them. Wine bottle bags are good for olive oil given as gifts. Date your oil; it will take a week or two for the flavor to develop.
Ideas for flavored infusions:
Rosemary, sage, basil, tarragon, chili peppers, garlic, thyme or a mixture of any of the above. Lemon oil is delicious mixed with a little balsamic vinegar, or served alone over fish, vegetables or salad. Here in central Italy, we often have truffle oil made with our own oil and the local black truffles.
For more info on infusions for both food and beauty treatments, download my Olive Oil IQ app at the iTunes store.
copyright Sharri Whiting 2011