How to make infused oils/vinegars?
I am thinking of giving these to some co-workers/friends...but I have no idea on how to do this. What combinations are good (besides the usual garlic, etc).
Any suggestions on the method to create and taste combinations are welcome!
I'm also looking some infused vinegar advice. I would like
1. for it to be easy
2. to leave whole items in the bottle rather than straining - I think it's pretty.
3. for it to have to sit for less than three weeks.
4. to use these beatiful clear glass bottles with ceramic stoppers that I happen to have already.
Can anyone point me to recipes?
First, under no circumstances should you make garlic oil at home. I live in fear land where I am afraid of botulism, and apparently, the homemade garlic oils are prone to it - no idea how true this is, but I don't use enough garlic oil to really want to test out the theory.
Second, infused oils are pretty easy. You do a basic steep of the ingredients you want to infuse the oil with, rosemary or peppercorn & chili are good ones. After the steeping is done, stuff a pretty bottle or three with fresh versions of the steeping ingredients, funnel and filter the oil into the bottle(s), and call it a day. These bottles don't have the longest shelf life in the world, so I wouldn't go giving giant bottles of them, but small bottles can be pretty and useful.
ANY fresh ingredient that could have come into contact with soil could contaminate your oil with botulism -- not just garlic. Fresh herbs can too. Garlic is grown underground so it's a more likely candidate.
Any OIL infused with fresh herbs, garlic, chiles, etc need to be kept refrigerated and used up or thrown away within 2 weeks. Oil is a good media for botulism, as it grows in a low acid, anaerobic environment.
Homemade oils are NOT good ideas for holiday gifts.
Botulism can kill or permanently debilitate you. It's nothing to monkey with.
It's a much better idea to make infused VINEGARS instead.
I too am so scared of botulism; it's what keeps me from ever canning anything or even thinking of making an infused oil. Anyways though, infused vinegars are safe since botulism can't live in an environment with that low of a pH. Any berry and balsamic is good; try shiso and rice wine. Peach and champagne vinegar is great but I'm thinking pear may also be good and it's in season. Good luck!
Just a word of advice -- read a reliable recipe for infused oils. Any that just have you soak herbs/garlic in olive oil are for SHORT term use (and often refrigerated)! My MIL once gave me some homemade oil she made -- she hadn't cooked any of the ingredients -- and it grew things. Oil can be a good environment for some bacteria/molds. Vinegar is easier and safer because of it's acidity. Oils can be done -- but you have to be more careful about the type of ingredients and that you properly heat/sterilze the jars and the oil itself.