Infused oil and vinegar add a sophisticated flair when served as appetizers or as part of a meal at parties. They are great homemade gifts that can be made in large batches and given away to everyone on the gift list. They can be wrapped and given as a set or given individually as teacher gifts, neighbor gifts or gifts to other service providers. A set makes a lovely housewarming gift. The flavored oil and vinegar can be served with crusty bread for dipping as a fast, easy and inexpensive appetizer at a party or any gathering.
Supplies for Flavored Vinegar & Oil
The ingredients to make infused oil and vinegar will vary according to which flavor is being made. The basic supplies for flavored oil or vinegar include:
- 1 cup of canola oil or olive oil, apple-cider vinegar or wine vinegar for each bottle.
- Sealable glass or plastic bottles with screw-on lids or corks.
- Fresh herbs.
- Wide-mouth jar and funnel.
- Cheesecloth or coffee filters.
- An acidifying agent like vinegar or lemon juice when making infused oil.
Apple-cider vinegar and canola oil is available in 1 gallon jugs at most grocery stores for those who want to make large batches to fulfill their Christmas gift list. Use gourmet olive oil for a richer flavored dipping oil.
Using Herbs for Flavored Oil and Vinegar
There are many choices of herbs for infused olive oil and vinegar. In her Prevention magazine article, “Gifts from the Kitchen,” author Karen Solomon includes a master recipe that uses a total of 1 ½ cups of a mixture of basil, mint, tarragon, dill or cilantro. Variations include:
- Use ¼ cup fresh rosemary and orange zest from four oranges cut into strips for orange-rosemary oil or vinegar.
- Use five whole jalapeno peppers with the stems removed for jalapeno oil or vinegar.
- Use 1 1/2 cup fresh pineapple and ½ cup mint for pineapple-mint vinegar.
- Use 2 tsp. whole black peppercorns and 1 cup sliced strawberries for peppered strawberry vinegar.
- Use 3 slices of fresh vinegar and 1 cup of chopped apple for ginger-apple vinegar.
The possibilities of flavors are endless and experimentation with combinations for dipping oil and vinegar rarely go wrong.
How to Make Flavored Vinegar
Making infused vinegar is an easy process with little prep time or cleaning when there are a couple weeks to let the flavor meld. The basic recipe for herb-infused vinegar includes 1 ½ cups of herbs to one cup vinegar. Place clean and dry herbs in a wide-mouth jar and pour vinegar over the herbs. Use a wooden spoon to make sure all the herbs are coated and packed tightly into the jar. Close the jar and keep it in a cool, dark spot. Swirl the jar every day.
After two weeks, it is time to bottle the flavored vinegar. Line a funnel with several coffee filters or cheesecloth and place the end of the funnel into the decorative bottle. Pour the liquid and herbs into the funnel to fill the bottle. Add a few fresh whole herbs for a more decorative look if desired. Cap the bottle and label.
For faster flavored vinegar, warm the vinegar in a glass measuring cup in the microwave. Pour the warm vinegar over fresh herbs. Cover and let sit for 3 days, and then follow the above directions. A batch that is started on Friday night can be ready to give on Monday morning.
Making Safe Infused Olive Oils
Flavored oils require a little bit more preparation to ensure that the oil is safe for eating. Botulism can be found on many herbs and garlic and these spores can grow in the oil. Infused olive oil must have an acidifying agent added during the preparation stage to prevent the growth of botulism, according to the Colorado State University Extension article, “Oil Infusions and the Risk of Botulism” from the summer 1998 issue of Safefood News. To make infused oil safely, add 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to 1 cup of oil during the preparation stage. Always refrigerate flavored oil and use within one week. Discard any oil that appears cloudy or has gas bubbles in it.
How to Make Dipping Oil
To make fast and safe flavored oil for bread dipping, break out the food processor or blender. Blend the herbs, 1 tablespoon of vinegar and lemon juice and the oil together until the herb are in fine pieces. Let the mixture sit in the refrigerator for 30 minutes then drain as described above and refrigerate.
Making herb-infused oil and vinegar is easy. Using a variety of herbs on hand, it is possible to create a myriad of flavors. Flavored oils and vinegars can be served with bread for dipping or given away as hostess gifts or Christmas gifts. Add a gift tag tied to the bottle with raffia for an eye-pleasing gift.
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