A Fabulous Gift for Friends or Yourself
Adding special flavors to olive oil or vinegar is easy to do and makes a great DIY gift for friends and family. Herb infused olive oils are delicious as a salad dressing, drizzling over pasta or for dipping breads with.
Getting Started with Olive Oil
The first thing to do is gather the best ingredients. Use high quality virgin organic olive oil, fresh herbs preferably from your herb garden, for a strong, cleaner flavor.
Wash and dry all the ingredients that will go into the oil. Leave it outside in the sun until it is completely dry. Bacteria cannot grow in oil, but it can grow in the left over water if not completely dry.
Bruise the herbs gently to expose their oils by lightly crushing them with a mortar and pestle. Another alternative is to place the herb between paper towels and softly pound it with something heavy. Chili peppers or lemons may be sliced thin and placed inside a bottle.
You may use any clear glass airtight bottle, but we prefer our own Purelite Olive Oil Dispenser. Not only is it airtight, with an easy pouring spout, it also has a large wide mouth opening so that ingredients can go in easily.
Fill the bottle with olive oil until the ingredient is entirely covered.
Let it sit for 1-2 weeks in a cool, dark shelf before using it. The oil will slowly infuse over time. Give it a taste test to see how it is coming along.
If you are short on time and patience, there is a faster method. You can heat the oil and ingredients in a saucepan over medium-low heat until a thermometer reaches 180° F, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature. Transfer the ingredients and the oil to the bottle. Seal and refrigerate. If your ingredients are small or crushed, remove from oil with a strainer before placing in bottle.
Keep the bottle refrigerated and the oil will generally keep for up to a month. If the ingredients start to show signs of spoilage, discard the rest of the oil immediately.
Sprigs of rosemary is an excellent herb that infuses well with oil. You may also try basil, lemon zest, thyme, sun-dried tomatoes and even truffles. If you love fruit, blood orange brings out a distinctive flavor. For those who like more spice in their life, jalapeño or chili can also be added.
There are three main types of vinegar, balsamic, wine and apple cider. All three may be used to infuse with fruits and herbs.
Balsamic vinegar is especially flavorfully bold with infused fruit as a marinade or over salads. Blackberries, blueberries and strawberries are just some of the fresh fruits that works wonderfully. Try the following recipe below.
- 1 ½ cups fresh blackberries
- 2 cups white balsamic vinegar
- ¼ cup chopped sage
- ½ a lemon peel
- Rinse the ingredients.
- In a pot over medium heat, warm the vinegar until steaming. Be careful not to let it boil! While it’s heating, peel the lemon, then place peel in a mason jar with berries. Chop the sage and add to jar as well along with the berries.
- Pour the vinegar over the berries and herbs, then let cool. Cover first with plastic wrap, then the lid of the jar. Swirl gently to combine.
- Set in a cool, dark place for one to two weeks to steep. Shake gently once a day.
- Sterilize the glass bottle that you will use to prevent bacterial contamination of the vinegar. You can heat the bottle in a pot of boiling water for 10 minutes or wash them in the dishwasher. (Our Purelite Olive Oil Dispenser is made of borosilicate glass, so it can go from extreme heat to extreme cold without cracking.)
- If desired, strain out the fruit and herbs with a metal strainer or cheese cloth when transferring to the glass bottle.
- Store in refrigerator to prevent spoilage.
You can try other variations of the above recipe, such as strawberry basil or blueberry rosemary. Use infused vinegar within 4-6 months.