Oils ain’t oils, so the old saying goes. It means that you should watch the quality of the oils that you buy. That saying was once often applied to oils for automobiles, but the same applys in the kitchen, right?
On the kitchen bench there are 5 oils — ghee of course, and some organic virgin cold pressed coconut oil. Then there is Indian mustard oil, that tangy oil so good for cooking and drizzling when you want that “heat up your nose” mustardy flavour. And Indian sesame oil, a very light sesame oil that does not have the intense flavours of Chinese Sesame oils.
And then of course, olive oil, extra virgin and cooking quality. Essential.
In summer, for salads, perhaps some hazelnut oil, some grapeseed oil and maybe one or two others for variety. For the rare deepfrying, then it is peanut or canola oil.
It is fun to make your own flavoured oils and they add variety to salad dressings, cooking mediums and oiled drizzled over soups and other dishes. Try some yourself at home.
While I make a lot of flavoured oils, I take a lot of care. There is a potential issue with home made flavoured oils that are made from fresh ingredients. It is caused by the water that they contain which is then placed in an oxygen-free environment (oil), allowing bacteria to grow. Please do your own research on this before making oils.
Using dried ingredients to make flavoured oils can help. When using fresh ingredients, keep the oil refrigerated and use within a few of days.
In addition, soaking your fresh herbs, chillies etc in vinegar prior to adding to the oil to reduce any risk. But again, do your own research on this.
Always store all oils in a cool, dark place. The fridge is recommended for any home made oils.
If you intend making oils regularly, buy a couple of litres of a good olive oil in bulk at the beginning of Summer, and keep several dark glass bottles on hand – ones with good corks or caps – to store the flavored oil in.
For strong flavoured oils use up to 1 cup of fresh herbs or ingredients, or about 1/3 cup dried herbs, to 2 or 3 cups of good olive oil. Slightly warm the oil if the herbs or spices are not too delicate, and then allow the oil and herbs to soak so that the oil is infused with the flavours. Strain, put a couple of any whole leaves or spices into a bottle and top with the infused oil.
My Standby Chilli Oil
Use 6 dried red chillies, or more, and 2 cups olive oil.
My Kitchen Bench Olive Oil
I love to make a little oil while I am pottering around the Kitchen, using what ever is on the bench. Dried limes, dried chillies, odd bits of herbs or spices, mandarin peel that I have dried. I make small amounts, generally under a cup and use it within a couple of days. It gets drizzled onto and into everything.
Who doesn’t love a good garlic oil. But either use dried garlic when you make it, or make small amounts, keep refrigerated and use quickly, for example at a Sunday afternoon BBQ or to drizzle on some hot soup for a wintery Sunday Lunch. Garlic oil is particularly prone to the problems mentioned above, so please do your own research before making this.
Use 15g peeled garlic cloves per 1 cup olive oil.
A Great Pasta Oil
Use 15g peeled garlic cloves, 15g roughly chopped basil leaves, 15g oregano and 2 cups olive oil. If you are using dried herbs, use about 1/4 of these quantities.
As this oil contains fresh garlic, only make enough to be consumed quickly. You can use the vinegar treatment method mentioned above.
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