Homemade flavoured & infused oils

With Christmas just 35 days away I thought this week I'd show you how to make infused and flavoured oils which you can make and use yourself, or give as homemade gifts for your foodie friends. Making them yourself means you know what's going into them and avoids anything artificial. Plus having them in your cupboard adds to that all important store cupboard that I always go on about. One of you guys has written in and challenged me to make a few meals using only my storecupboard. I will be able to do it e.g. Indian rice dishes, bean mixed salad, curried lentil soup etc. However, to make the challenge more relevant I'm going to add the contents of my freezer to that challenge, so I can show you how to make the best use of your storecupboard and freezer. That theme will be featured in a while, once I get round to cooking the meals, but it shouldn’t be too long. I travel a lot for work so sometimes there actually is nothing fresh in to eat, but I do manage to scrape something together because I have a freezer and cupboard full of staples I can just pull out. I know some of you are fantastic cooks and will be able to do this, but some of you guys are just starting out, and I firmly believe that cooking is so much more than just following a recipe or putting up a plate of edible food, its learning what goes with what and how to make the best use of what you have at home, adapting recipes and making stuff up out of what you have.

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So back to the flavoured oil. I love using them drizzling over a finished dish as it can really make a dish go from good to great. Last week I made courgette ribbons with crispy bacon and sundried tomatoes and drizzled lemon oil and grated a bit of lemon zest on it and it was just amazing. Next time I do that dish I'll blog about it so you can make it too, it’s really very good!    

Flavoured oils are also great on salads, fish, meat, pizza (Pizza? That’s not clean I hear you say, well no its not but I totally love it and I'm looking for clean, or cleaner, ways to make it. I'm not there yet gang but just like we brought you clean pasta we will bring you MC&L pizza, watch this space...)

LEMON OIL 

  • 2 lemons
  • 500ml extra virgin olive oil 

Zest the lemons making sure not to get any of the pith. Then lightly crush the zest to release some of the natural lemon oils. You can use a pestle and mortar if you have one or the side of a wide knife. Then pour the extra virgin olive oil over the lemon zest and preserve for at least 3 weeks in a dark place. After this time you can sieve the contents and transfer to a bottle, or as I've done here just keep the lemon in the bottle. I don’t mind a bit of lemon rind in my oil as I use it mainly to pour over green veg. Try this on green beans with some freshly milled black pepper - amazing! However, if I was making for a friend I might pour the oil thru a bit of muslin fabric, or a fine sieve. 

CHILLI OIL 

  • Dried chilli whole or flakes. Use as much as you like according to strength of chillies! 
  • 500ml extra virgin olive oil 

Just pour the oil in a bottle with the chillies and leave, the longer the chilli is in the oil the longer it will infuse.
Good for: pasta, pizza, Asian salads 
Some recipes encourage you to pan fry the chilli first in some olive oil and I’d do that if using fresh to get the flavour out. If you choose that way after frying with lots of oil for 5 mins leave it to go cold and then pour into the sterilised bottle. This is a good way to make more instant oil if you don't have time to let the chilli work its magic in the oil.  

GARLIC OIL 

I do this oil two ways. One is just to peel and rough chop the garlic and put into the bottle and let it infuse. The other is to peel the cloves of garlic and smash them with the back of the knife, then cook them whole in a frying pan for 5 mins in lots of olive oil, then take them out and use the oil.

The second I’d only do if I was doing a dipping oil, maybe not for a present, but remember just like the chilli brings out the flavour cooking the garlic does the same.

ROSEMARY OIL 

  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 500ml extra virgin olive oil

Wash the rosemary and pat dry with kitchen towel (or just leave to air dry, we do this as it stops it from growing mould. Put the rosemary and the olive oil in a bottle and leave for 2-3 months. Simple.
Good for: Roast lamb, game, soups, Italian dishes, chicken

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Top tips for great tasting oils: 

  1. Wash and sterilise any bottles and jars before using them
  2. Only use natural untreated ingredients so we have no added nasties, wash thoroughly and perfectly dry them before preserving to avoid adding mould
  3. If possible, store in dark glass bottles or if using clear glass bottles, store in dark place like a closed cupboard 
  4. To allow the oils to infuse store for a minimum of 3 weeks in a cool, dark place, with the bottle closed airtight
  5. If you notice something going on in the oil (e.g. if you start to see some little bubbles) discard the oil as something could have gone wrong and the oil could be carrying bacteria
  6. Only good quality extra virgin olive oil
  7. Use within 6 months

I bought my little bottles in Sainsbury's but I'm sure you can get them in almost every large supermarket, Ikea and the like. If making presents, why  not jazz up with some fancy labels and ribbons...

Love and light 
Evie 
xxxx