In fusing herbs in oils is such a great way to add flavor, scent, color and health benefits to oils. I’ve been making infused oils for quite some time and thought I’d share with you my no-fuss way of infusing the oil.
But first let’s chat about why you would even want to infuse oil. Have you ever gone to an Italian restaurant where bring small dipping bowls and bread to the table, then fill the dipping bowl with oil that has herbs in it? Then you eat so much bread and oil (and salad) that you have to take your entree home in a box? That, my friend, is an infused oil.
But infused oils are not only for dipping white bread into, you can also use them in salad dressings or on baked chicken. And you can use them topically to soothe aching muscles or heal scraps and cuts. It all depends on what herbs you chose to put in your oil.
Tips for making an infused oil
When you’re just starting out making infused oils don’t start with quart size jar, a pint size jar will do just fine. Also, always use dried herbs to make the infusion. Fresh herbs still have water in them and will cause the oil to go bad sooner…plus oil and water don’t really mix.
I usually just use olive oil or coconut oil to make the infusion. Olive oil if it’s for culinary use and coconut oil if it’s for topical use. However, either oil can be used for either purpose.
There are different schools of thought for making infused oils. Some people will not measure the herbs or oils and just kind of approximate the ingredients. Others will measure out the herbs and oils and never deviate from that ratio. You can do which ever way you are most comfortable with.
I use both ways depending on what I’m using the oil for. If it’s an oil I’m using for culinary purposes I’ll do the approximating method. If I’m using it medicinally I’ll measure the herbs and oil because I want to make sure I’m getting enough herbs in the oil to get the full medicinal benefits. A good general ratio is an 8:1 ratio – 8 fluid ounces of oil for every 1 weight ounce of dried herb.I usually make smaller batches like 4 ounces of oil and 1/2 ounce of dried herb.
You can do which ever way you are most comfortable with, there’s a lot of flexibility for infused oils.
How to make an infused oil
Put the herb in a pint size mason jar and pour the oil over it. Give it a good stir.
Fill a pot with about 2 inches of water and put the herb and oil filled jar in it. Make sure that the water is about the same height as the herbs and oil.
Heat the water over medium heat just until you start to see the beginnings of it boiling. Then turn the heat to low and let it simmer for a couple of hours. It should be low enough that the water isn’t going to evaporate all the way, but keep it an eye on it.
After a couple of hours remove the pan from the heat and let the oil cool down.
Once cooled, use cheese cloth and strain out the herbs from the oil. If you’re using the infused oil for culinary purposes, this step isn’t necessary.
Label the jar and put it in your pantry or apothecary.
How to Use Infused Oils
One last way to use infused oils topically, is to just use them straight out of the bottle. When we have sore muscles and don’t have any salve prepared, I’ve been known to sprinkle a little pepper (or capsicum) oil on the sore spot and massage it. (Just make sure to wash hands with soap and water afterwards to get the capsicum off.) You could do the same with calendula infuse oils for skin irritations.
For culinary uses, how about some pine needle salad dressing. I haven’t tried this yet, but we have quite a few pine trees on our property and would love to put them to use for more than just mulch for the blueberries.
We can’t grow hard neck garlic here but I hear garlic scapes are wonderful and I bet this garlic scape infused oil is equally wonderful.
What are your favorite infused oils?