Set the taste buds on zero. Start the new year with new & fresh infused oils and vinegar’s.
Of course this is a great thing to do in the summer when you might have access to fresh herbs in a garden, but you can still buy nice fresh herbs in a well assorted store in the winter or use those dried herbs that you have in your food pantry.
I love to use my infused vinegar’s for so many things. For cooking veggies, on fish, in dressings, as meat tenderizers, taste enhancers and so many other things. A splash of vinegar at the end of cooking leafy greens keeps them green. Sometimes you just need something that can cut the heaviness in a dish, or that can just “lift” the taste. An infused vinegar can be kept for about 6-8 months. Some people say you need to keep them in the fridge to be sure they are ok. Personally, I don’t. I keep them in my food pantry (cold storage in my basement specially built for food) and in my kitchen. When making your own favorite vinegar make sure it is 5% or higher (5% is what is mostly sold in grocery stores).
The infused oils are a little harder to keep. You also need to be very careful with food safety. If you add fresh herbs to oil, bacteria can start to grow. All water based ingredients can have the “botulinum toxins” start growing in the oil. The bacteria need water to grow, so if you really want to be safe, add dried herbs or spices. You should also use a very high quality oil. And for safety reasons, keep it in the fridge. An infused oil only lasts a week or two.
Infused Oils and Vinegar’s.
Find some really nice bottles with good corks or stoppers.
Since you need to be careful with the oils, it is better to make smaller amounts but more often.
Also remember to use good Oil & Vinegar.
So the basic idea is to put the herbs or spices and then pour over the oil or vinegar.
For my oils I usually do one Basil Hot Pepper combination. Sometimes I add roasted garlic to it.
I would also make a Mint version (I prefer to use spearmint).
I usually make a strawberry oil that I use for vinaigrettes. Delicious!!!
I use extra virgin olive oil.
Since the herbs are very fragile, you should remove them after 24-48 hours. I try to keep them a little longer in the bottles, but you need to be very careful with the kind of herbs you are using. If they are dried, you are a little “safer”. There is another way of making oils where you heat the oil up on the stove and let the herbs simmer with the oil for a while. If you choose to heat it up, make sure it cools down completely before adding to a bottle and putting on a stopper.
For the Vinegar’s I really add all sorts of different herbs, spices, fruits, berries or vegetables.
My favorite is to use fresh strawberries, raspberries or apples.
Hot Peppers and citrus zest is also a classic in my house.
Of course I would make some that has a combination of herbs, such as Basil (a few different kinds), Thyme, Tarragon or Mint.
Make sure all liquid covers the herbs & spices well.
I let the herbs and things stay in the bottles while storing them. If you use something that looses its color, you might want to remove it, but otherwise the vinegar pickles it and keeps it safe.