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Feb 19, 2010 01:13 AM

botulism and steeping garlic in oil

is this risk reserved to just olive oil or am i not supposed to steep garlic in any edible oil?

as a workaround,

what if i nuke the oil on low for several minutes before i steep the garlic?

what if i toast the garlic before steeping it?

what if i nuke the oil and toast the garlic before steeping?

thanks in advance and peace to all.

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  1. You'll find info on a method to safely prepare and store garlic oil at this link:

    1. Two conditions are favorable to the growth of bacteria that produce the botulinum toxin: lack of oxygen and low acidity. Manufacturers of commercial brands of garlic in oil add citric or phosphoric acid to raise the acidity and create a less favorable environment for the bacteria to grow. It doesn't matter if the garlic is raw or roasted.

      Garlic in oil should always be refrigerated. Even when refrigerated, it should be used up within a reasonable amount of time. I make a pureed garlic that I cover with oil and use within 10 days. If you want something that lasts longer, buy a store brand that has the acid needed to retard bacterial growth.

      1. ok, thanks for the replies, from what i gather:

        -acid prevents the botulism bug from multiplying so i'll soak the chopped garlic in citrus (i'm using calamansi).
        -the bug doesn't like heat so after i mix the garlic with citrus and the canola oil, i'm going to nuke it on low for at least five minutes. let cool and refrigerate.

        would that be sufficiently safe?

        2 Replies
        1. re: epabella

          Nuking it on low will not bring the temp up to at least 125F for 5 minutes to completely or mostly kill the botulinum toxin, which are the criteria for killing the spores. Soaking the garlic in a citrus juice is not the same as acidifying the garlic, as in commercial preparations. Why don't you just make a garlic/oil combo in small quantities and use it quickly, as cheesemaestro suggested? I used to puree garlic in oil every few days for restaurant line use and kept it refrigerated, disgarding the leftovers after service.

          1. re: epabella

            Acid retards the growth of Clostridium botulinum, but does not kill it. If you add your citrus/garlic mixture to the oil, the acid will be diluted and the mixture will no longer be acidic enough to prevent bacterial growth.

            The bug doesn't like heat, but the toxins that the bug produces can be heat stable. Doubtful that the nuking will raise the temperature sufficiently (and for long enough) to denature the toxin.

          2. I know this has been discussed ad nauseum but just want to be safe. I make garlic confit where I slowly simmer garlic cloves for an hour or so completely covered in canola oil---then I let it cool down, pour it into a jar & refrigerate. I just pull out a soft clove or 2 whenever I need it. I often keep it for months. Am I playing Russian Roulette? Or am I ok since it is cooked?

            3 Replies
            1. re: sparkareno

              I was going to respond to this post when I first saw the link; this subject as been debated on another thread. I posted there also; I've always steeped garlic in olive a matter of fact, you can find whole garlic in oil at the grocers and perhaps it's been processed in a way to keep it safe but I make my own. I keep mine in the fridge and have never gotten sick or gotten anyone else sick. But, some will tell you not to do it.

              If you've done it before and you have obviously lived to write about it, I wouldn't worry about it But that's my opinion and it may not be the right answer.

              1. re: Cherylptw

                I used to do this too, and nobody ever died. Never gave it a second thought - until I started reading the "Don't do it -botulism alert!"
                I wouldn't tell others to do it, but I'll still add garlic to a batch of salad dressing or keep some garlic oil in the fridge. Maybe because I go through it pretty quickly, I've never had a problem. I do find that it gets sour or too strong after a couple of weeks and it's time to pitch it and start over.

              2. re: sparkareno

                I just made this version last night as written in Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc. Have made it this way before with no problems. He states it's necessary to refrigerate an use within 1 week.

              3. Mojo de ajo is supposed to be safe for at least a couple of weeks. I always make a batch large enough to last that long and have never had nor heard of any associated problems.