Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Herbed Oil and Vinegar

Ah, Christmas. Sometimes my favorite time of year. At the very least it's a great time to find excuses to craft, bake, and create things you might otherwise not find time to do. This post is tardy as i obviously didn't want to spoil any surprises!

Herbed oils and vinegars are easy to do, and especially special when they're made entirely with homegrown herbs and veggies.  This year I'm giving each set of parents (i have three) their own oil and vinegar sets. I have to ship the ones to my Dads and Moms in Oregon, so i am rigorously crossing my fingers that they don't explode on the way there.
Flavors and herb choices are entirely up to you or up to what your garden is providing. If it was summer i would have put in a lot more fresh basil, and if my lemon thyme plant hadn't died in this summer's drought i would have been able to put a lot more of that in there: same goes for my lemongrass. You simply want to choose "a theme" and try to stick to it. I put together what i had on hand:

Herbed Oil - Italian Herbs with Garlic

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • fresh and roasted garlic - mashed + whole for garnish
  • fresh rosemary and sage - diced + whole sprigs for garnish
  • fresh oregano - diced
  • peppercorns and dried hot peppers for garnish
Flavored oils are so easy: Simply dice up all the herbs and garlic and put in a mortar and pestle with a drizzle of oil. Mash until you can't stand it then scoop it all into a mixing bowl. Pour the rest of your oil into the bowl and mix well - be sure to get all the goodness off the pestle.  Once well mixed pour the oil mixture into some well sealed jars and be sure to shake them up daily. Marinate the mixture for at least 2 weeks. (i had to skimp the Rommels due to time i'm afraid, theirs only got marinated for about a week, sorry!) When you are ready to bottle simply stuff the fresh herbs and peppercorns/garlic into some pretty bottles: feel free to recycle old oil bottles for this. Using a strainer and funnel one over the other carefully pour the oil into your bottles. The strainer will catch the gook and the funnel will direct the oil into the bottle instead of all over your counter. Be sure to leave some room on the top.
Try and store the oil in a dark, coolish place. The fresh herbs contribute to ease of going rancid so you want to use this oil within 6 months and keep it from getting too warm and friendly to bacteria.

Herbed Vinegar with Citrus

  • White Wine Vinegar
  • Fresh Meyer Lemon Zest for marinating and garnish
  • Garlic - diced + whole for garnish
  • Fresh Dill - diced + whole sprig for garnish
  • Fresh Parsley - diced + whole for garnish
  • Garlic Chives - diced
  • Lemon Thyme - diced
  • Peppercorns and Dried Hot Pepper for garnish
  • (wanted to include fresh lemongrass, but it died in the first frost)
Pour vinegar into a non reactive pot and heat to just boiling. Meanwhile dice all the herbs and mash in a mortar and pestle. Place herbs in a mixing bowl and pour hot vinegar over them when it is ready. Cover and let cool. Once cooled off a bit pour the vinegar mixture into well sealable jars and store in a dark place, shaking daily, for at least 2 weeks.  When you're ready repeat the same process as with the oils and pour through a sieve and funnel into pretty bottles - i reused the original vinegar bottles.


Is totally up to you, of course. But i wanted these to look pretty and special and "me." I scraped off the original labels with a flat exacto blade, any sticky residue can be removed with WD40. If i had had labels, i may have stuck something to the side of the bottles, but since i didn't i used black hemp twine and recycled Artagain Paper (the same that i use with my illustrations). I hand wrote (redoing several times as my handwriting is NOT good) the ingredients and suggested uses and storage instructions on the paper and strung it to the bottles with the twine. I think the black hemp looks nice on the naked bottles filled with pretty and scrumptios stuff.

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