If you’ve been with me for a while you will be aware that I love olive oil, extra virgin olive oil to be precise (nutritionally there is a big difference). I use it for cooking, mix it with a balsamic for salad dressings or pair it with dukkah and bread as an appetizer. If you were with me through my low FODMAPs journey (hello, you loyal reader) then you’ll know that garlic is one of the common contributors to IBS, but it’s also one of the most common ingredients when it comes to cooking! Disaster! But that is where infused olive oils come in to save the day. They retain the flavour of the ingredient, without the compounds that cause gastric distress.
It used to be that you could only find infused olive oils in specialty stores, but there is now a wide range available in your regular supermarket. Cobram Estate (my favourite olive oil producer) make an excellent range, and they are Australian too (see their farm I visited here)! I use a lot of these in my pantry, particularly the garlic variety. As much as I love convenience of buying these oils in the supermarket, there is something so satisfying about infusing your own olive oil. It might be due to nostalgia? The romance of a simple, homemade kitchen? The extra bit of love put into the meal? Maybe it’s the combination of all of those things. Whatever it is, I love being able to do things myself, and I want to share this method so you can do it too. Because of the simplicity of this item the quality of your ingredients really matters, so choose the best ingredients you can afford. As with all new projects it is best to start simple. I chose some fresh herbs (rosemary and garlic) to begin my preserving process. There are a number of ways to make your own infused olive oil, but I have chosen cold infusion as it is the most simple.
What you will need to infuse your own olive oil:
When infusing your own olive oil at home you will need:
- Canning jars or glass bottles with a tight rubber seal. The jar must be airtight. Ikea slome jars are a good example.
- Good quality extra virgin olive oil.
- Fresh herbs/spices of your choice.
Wash your herbs thoroughly and leave them out overnight to dry completely. This makes sure that there is no water present (water can be a carrier for bacteria growth).
If you are using spices it is a good idea to dry roast them first, just until they become aromatic. This will allow the flavours to infuse more quickly and reduce the water content.
Add the herbs to your chosen bottle and then fill the bottle with olive oil. Leave as little room in the top of the jar as possible and secure the lid/rubber stop. Invert the jar a few times to ensure the flavours mix throughout the oil.
Refrigerate the oil for ~2 weeks. The fridge helps to regulate the temperature of the oil and prevents it going rancid. After two weeks test the flavour of the oil. If you are happy with it you can strain the oil into a new clean, dry, air-tight jar and place it back in the fridge. If you prefer a stronger flavour leave it for 2-3 more days and test again.
Storing your homemade infused olive oil
You can store your infused olive oil for 2-3 weeks in the fridge. But be wary; if you notice a change in the appearance of flavour of the oil make sure you throw it away immediately as it is no longer safe for consumption.
Safety Warning: Botulism is serious and needs to be taken seriously. Although bacteria can’t grow in olive oil itself, it can grow in any water contained within the oil. For example, garlic cloves, lemon peel, fresh herbs or spices. If you see any kind of growth in your oil throw it out immediately.
Gift your Homemade Infused Olive Oil
I know it’s early, very, very early, but I am planning on making a range of small jars of herb infused olive oil this year for Christmas gifts. I love being able to give something with a personal touch! Let me know if you give this project a go by tagging @eatprayworkout on social media – I’d love to see some photos of the lovely oils you make!