Sunday, May 11, 2014

How to Make Herbal Oils

~ ingredients for herbal oil ~
 Spring is a great time for harvesting fresh herbs - you'd be amazed at how quickly they will grow back & allow continued harvesting through the summer.

I decided to make some herbal olive oil with which I use in cooking & baking for the rest of year, reserving fresh herbs for salads & dried herbs for my salts.

* Olive oil (or use grape seed oil - lighter flavour which will bring out the herb flavour more)
* jar with lid
* plastic wrap
* fresh herbs

How to:
* I like to pick the herbs in the late morning after any dew has dried but before the aromatic oils have evaporated. If you need to wash them, you must make sure you remove all water from them (spin in a salad spinner or wrap in a dry tea towel tightly). If there is water on your herbs, that will not mix with the oil & the chances of the oil going 'off' is increased greatly.
* rough chop the herbs - you want flavour to escape & the chopping & bruising of the leaves & stems will allow the essential oils & flavours to blend with the oil.
* pack the herbs into the jar & pour in the oil.
~ marjoram ~
* make sure the air bubbles are released from the oil & all the herbs are submerged. Swirl a chop stick through the blend to help the air bubbles escape.
* I place a large piece of plastic wrap down on the surface of the oil to ensure that the herbs remain submerged & to also keep the oil off any metal parts of the lid. If your herbs stick up out of the oil, they will start to mold & will ruin your oil. Metal & oil do not mix either - if you are able, find reusable plastic lids
* label your jar & include the date! Sometimes I find items in the pantry with no label & I have no idea how long they've been there - are they still edible? Also, the hubby has to know what is in the jars & bottles or else the wrong item may be used by accident.
* store in cool, dark place - stir daily (if you can remember) & then strain out the herbs after a couple of weeks & place oil into a bottle with a tight fitting lid. It will keep in the fridge for months & adds great flavour to whatever you cook or bake.
~ harvest of herbs ~

 If you have extra herbs left over, place them on some parchment paper on a cookie sheet & dry them for use in salts or rubs. I place my cookie sheets in the back office & after a week or so they are dry & will be packed into jars just as they are. I grind them up in a spice grinder just before I use them & the flavour is still fresh & strong.

Just remember: dried herbs have stronger flavour than fresh herbs, so reduce the amount you use if converting in your recipes.

The herbs I used today were rosemary & marjoram.              

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