The first three oils are made with extra virgin olive oil and fresh herbs the second are made with spices.
Thyme, oregano, rosemary, cinnamon and star anis. The last two oils are made with peanut oil.
There are so many flavored oils that can be purchased at specialty stores but who wants to pay the big prices when you can make it yourself ?
An oil you may want to look at is extra-virgin olive oil which is terrific for natural flavoring. We can discuss adding oil to truffles but who has a truffle to infuse in these parts of North America ? But if you have one , why not ? Herbs and spices can be infused though, either alone or in a combination of different ways. There are really no rules, but each flavor should be a compliment to the other. These oils are mostly for seasoning. For flavor , oils need to be infused with a small amount of herbs or spices.
For spices, add a pinch of curry powder to oil and it will take on a wonderful curry flavor. This can make for a terrific finishing touch to vegetable dishes, different salads, soups, or even add droplets to plated dishes. If we were to broaden this thought even further we can take a piece of gingerroot , add the oil and have ginger oil which can be easily added to marinated beef, chicken or soups. Star anise added to oil can bring out the beautiful flavors of a chicken dish or even better, shellfish.
Now if you have decided to use the herbs from your garden to showcase them in some of your tasty dishes , then why not follow a few basic tips and add that special touch to your dishes.
The first thing you would want to do is pick whichever herbs you would like to use and wash it and dry it thoroughly. Prior to bottling , you would want to bruise the herb lightly to help release the flavors. Wash and sterilize a bottle or jar (make sure the lid or top has a clamp or can close tightly) , add the herbs and oil, seal and let it stand in a cool dark place for a minimum of two weeks. After this time period has elapsed, taste the oil, if you find that the oil tastes like the herb, then it is ready for use. If however you feel that the flavor is not strong enough then simply add more herbs to your oil and leave it for another week.
The oil can be left as is or you can strain the herbs out of the bottle and just keep the oil making sure you have labeled the identity of each oil. Remember, the longer you leave the herbs in, the stronger the oil will become. If you are bottling fresh thyme, to make your dish exquisite , it would be an added touch if you put a small garnish of fresh thyme on your plate to give not only a finishing touch but it would also help indentify the oil in the dish .
Quantities are always according to taste, what some may like may differ from someone else. The more herbs or spices you use in your flavored oil the more intense the flavor will be, this would apply to both herbs and spices.
We all know that an oil added to a salad can be good, but what can make a dish stand out even more is an infused oil made with herbs, there is nothing more tasty. When we speak of oils, it would be herbs like chives, parsley, and chevril. These are all excellent for salad herbs. They are great alone or in a combination , to give added pleasure to a salad oil. What can be more fitting than to have these oils on hand when the herbs themselves can be expensive when off season or hard to obtain ? Now there are strong flavors that we cannot ignore because they add the deep , warm flavors which we need to taste as well. Flavors like Bay leaf, sage, rosemary, oregano, basil and thyme which all have earthy flavors and that special touch to a dish. These can enhance the flavor of a marinade for meat, game, or even cheeses like goat cheese or mozzarella and feta . Have you ever made peanut oil and cinnamon sticks ? Give it a try. Just wonderful for fritters, cooking pancakes, crepes, waffles, or used as a baste for chicken to grill. Peanut oil is a subtle light oil which can impart a full bodied flavor , to infuse fruit, namely, pears, oranges, strawberries, or whatever fruit you enjoy. These fruit infused oils can be used for making a mayonnaise, dressings or just cold meats and sandwiches.
Ps. Did I mention anything about Cardamom, juniper, nutmeg or saffron ? Yes, wonderful exotic tasting oils for that special dish.
Remember: Light is the enemy of olive oil, it should always be stored in a cool, dark place.