There is most definitely a nip in the air. The rain has a definite iciness about it. The weather is telling that winter is just around the corner. However, you can still enjoy the flavours of summer and autumn throughout the colder weather by making warm, flavourful oil dressings.
Gathering herbs that are still going strong from the garden like thyme and oregano, mixing them with spices such as coriander seeds and pimento and perhaps adding a chilli that you’ve grown to a lovely olive oil.
Herb and spice infused oils are great for salad dressings and to add a base for cooking. They are quick and simple to make by just following a few rules.
The most important thing for a delicious oil is to always use fresh herbs. Fresh herbs from the garden have an intense and better flavour than those that have been dried. Any herbs are great for making oils and you can experiment with your own favourite mixes. I am a huge fan of thyme which makes it into the majority of my cooking but wonderfully aromatic rosemary and savory also make for wonderful additions. If you chose to use softer herbs like oregano, which I love, the best thing is to blanch them first in boiling water, them rinse them in cold water. This will maintain their wonderful bright green or yellow colours once immersed in the oil.
Adding spices is easy, you can use them whole or you may choose to ground them first. Again, the key with this is freshness, so if you choose to use ground spices it’s best to buy them whole and then grind them for use in the oil.
Whether your using herbs, spices or both the ingredients will need to be added to the oil and heated. Heating the ingredients in the oil is important for two reasons: Firstly, it allows the flavours to infuse the oil. Secondly, it is the key way to ensuring that the oil doesn’t become cloudy leaving you with something much less pretty than the image in your mind.
You can chose to remove the herbs after heating or leave them to add to the bottle. If you chose the latter it does make for a lovely presentation making it nice for presents or for your own use. When adding the whole herbs it will make the oil a little cloudier but it’s still very lovely to look at.
Wash and dry herbs thoroughly.
Add your chosen ingredients to the oil.
Gently heat in a saucepan until the oil begins to bubble.
Remove from the heat and let the oil cool completely.
Carefully strain the oil into your chosen bottle.