The Internet Times Supplement

How to make flavoured Oil Infusions

In Food & Drink on April 6, 2010 at 4:03 pm


Before using any of the recipes here, it is essential you read the notes I have prepared in relation to common sense and food safety with particular reference to flavoured oil infusions. I make a lot of preserved and fermented foods and know what I am doing. You should be aware that I take no responsibility as a result of your using any of these recipes. It is up to you to ensure you follow good kitchen hygiene and research the issues relating to flavoured oil infusions. Prepared properly, flavoured oil infusions are a wonderful taste adjunct to your arsenal of kitchen flavours. I include two recipes below where caution is required in their use – garlic and fresh herbs.

There are many variants you can make according to your needs and tastes. Even a curry oil.


Chili Oil

2 cups of olive oil (use ordinary olive oil not extra virgin)
1 cup of dried and crushed red chilies
Acidifying agent in liquid form- see notes

Mix oil, chili, and juice in a small, thick bottomed pan.
Heat gently and slowly, mixing well, until the oil almost begins to bubble.
Reduce heat and, continuing to stir, cook until the chilies darken.

Notes: You are not frying the chilies, simply tenderising them to release the flavour.

Prepare sterilised jar or wide necked bottle. I heat the container in boiling water and ensure it is thoroughly dry before use.
Cool at room temperature and then seal and store in refrigerator.
Let steep at least one month before using. Should keep indefinitely. If desired, strain before using or shake and use.
Makes 2-3 cups.

Chili & Sichuan Peppercorn Oil

6 Tablespoons Sichuan Peppercorns
2 Cups of Oil – Suitable for high temperature e.g. Corn or Peanut
2 Tablespoons Dried Chili Flakes
2 1/2 Tablespoons Fresh Ginger – chopped or minced
2 Tablespoons Scallions or Leeks. Use both the green and white part and cut in rings
Acidifying agent in liquid form – see notes

Toast the Sichuan Peppercorns for two to three minutes making sure they do not burn. This can be done in a cast iron pan, on the stove top, in the oven, or under a grill (broiler).
Allow these to cool a little then mix the peppercorns and all the other ingredients together in a pan (Important. NOT aluminum!).
Carefully heat this on a low heat, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until bubbles begin to form.
Reduce heat further and allow mixture to gently simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Notes: You are not deep frying, simply heating the combined ingredients to allow the flavours to meld.

Fresh Herb Oil

4 cups of firmly packed leaves (basil, parsley, cilantro, or tarragon) prepared to ensure they are clean and dry (no residual water).
2 cups of olive oil (use ordinary olive oil not extra virgin)

Notes: This is not for long term storage and should be good for up to one week.
For soft herbs, such as basil, parsley, cilantro or tarragon, use 4 cups firmly packed leaves to 2 cups olive oil. Blanch first in a brine or vinegar solution and pat dry on paper towels.

Puree the herbs and oil in a blender until completely smooth. Preferably grind mixture by hand with a pestle and mortar as herbs can be tainted by metal blades.
Place the mixture in a saucepan and bring it to a gentle simmer over a low to moderate heat.
Simmer for 45 seconds and remove from heat. Allow to cool slightly.
Stir well and pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl (a plastic tea strainer is good). Do not press the mixture.
Strain the oil again using a flat-bottomed paper filter (coffee filter works). Patience is a virtue but, should the filter clog, you can squeeze it gently to force the oil through. Care is needed to ensure you do not break the filter.

There may be a small amount of dark liquid that passes through the filter. This is only water/plant juice and it will settle to the bottom as it is heavier than the oil.
Allow the filtered oil settle for a few hours, then carefully pour off the clear oil leaving any dark liquid behind and ensuring no water mixes with the oil at the top. It is better to waste a little of the oil than risk infection.
Store in a sterilised airtight jar in a cool, dark place. This should store well for about 1 month although it is best for up to one week.

Garlic Oil – Cold infusion

1 large head garlic – peeled. (Use fresh and unblemished garlic)
1/2 Cup Cider or white wine vinegar
1 Cup of olive oil

Soak cloves in the vinegar for about 30 minutes. I split the garlic cloves in two length wise for this.
Drain and rinse under cold running water.
Drain, dry well, then chop coarsely by hand or in a blender with the oil. Do not chop too finely or blend to a puree as this will make the oil and garlic too difficult to separate.
Let the oil stand for about 1 hour in a refrigerator or cool dark place.
Strain the puree using a fine-mesh strainer (plastic tea strainer or similar).
You may find the oil a little cloudy at first but allow to settle for a while and then strain again using cheesecloth or a coffee filter.
Put in a sterilized glass bottle, cover tightly, and refrigerate.
Use within 1 week for best flavour as the garlic oil will sour after this.

Notes: The chopped garlic can still be used for cooking. Note that this is not a long term storage item.

Dried Rosemary Oil

3 or more dried rosemary sprigs (depends on size of sprigs and container)
1/2 Cup Cider or white wine vinegar
1 Cup of olive oil

Heat the cider vinegar in a none aluminum pan and blanch the sprigs of rosemary for about 15 seconds.
Dry the sprigs on paper towels and insert one or more into sterilised bottle/sealable container. Keep one or more for ‘cooking’ in the oil.
It is important to ensure there is no residual water in the container.
Gently heat the oil with one or more rosemary sprigs in it until small bubbles form. Allow the oil to cool slightly and remove the sprigs of rosemary. Discard these.
Place the bottle with the rosemary sprig/s into a pan of shallow water (too much and the bottle tips over) and bring to a gentle simmer. Allow the bottle to heat before carefully pouring the oil into it.

Notes: Pouring hot oil into a cold bottle is not a good idea as the bottle will crack/shatter. Gently heat first in the water over a low heat.

  1. This is the best and most common sense postings I have seen about oil infusions. Thanks.


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