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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Herbed Olive Oil

Olive oil from Imperia in Liguria, Italy.
Olive oil from Imperia in Liguria, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
By Juvy S. Iliwiliw

Olive oil with different herbs and spices steeped in it turns into a unique condiment perfect for serving with breads. It may also be used in your favorite recipes to add a flavorful twist!

A word of caution, though: there are unsafe ways of making flavored oil, and you need to be very careful to prevent food poisoning (including botulism). The main thing to remember is that adding any substance containing water - and these would include garlic, fresh herbs and spices, fresh peppers or citrus peels - to the oil can create a breeding ground for harmful bacteria. Commercial preparations of flavored oil either preserve the fresh or water-containing ingredients they add or press the oil directly with the flavoring ingredients.

Flavored oils should be kept refrigerated, and to ensure this, the bottle you put them in should carry this reminder on labels that cannot be easily removed. Since it might be difficult to make sure that the flavored oil is consumed by your recipient within a week, the only recipe I am suggesting makes use of dried herbs and peppercorns. The flavor may not be as intense but, again, better safe than sorry!


You will need:

2 tablespoons dried herbs (combination of oregano, rosemary, basil or marjoram)
2 tablespoons dried peppercorns (black is okay, but you can also find green and pink peppercorns
   at delis and specialty food shops)
2 cups extra virgin olive oil

Here's how:

Place the dried herbs and peppercorns in warm sterilized jars and add the olive oil. Seal well. Store for two weeks in the refrigerator to let the flavor develop.

Yield: 2 cups flavored olive oil
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Storage time: 1 month, refrigerated
Packaging ideas: Tie dried leaves, flowers or twigs around jars using twine or other decorative strigs for a rustic, country look. Add a tag with suggested uses ("dip for bread," "for your favorite salad dressing," etc.)
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