After checking out the $17 bottles of infused olive oils at the local gourmet store, of course I thought, “I can do this myself!” So here’s what I came up with.
Pick a handful of fresh herbs from the herb garden.
With the real winter we had here; actual snow, a couple of freezes and an extended cool spring, my herbs are just getting started. However, my thyme did survive, so I’ll use it for this recipe.
Start by cutting a big bunch of fresh herbs, wash well, and trim as needed. Thoroughly pat dry between several sheets of paper towels, being careful not to crush.
Pack the clean, dry herbs into a clean glass quart jar then fill with a good quality extra-virgin olive oil. Cap tightly, then roll the jar around lightly to mix. Store for about 2-3 weeks in a cool, dark spot. The longer they steep, the stronger the infusion.
Here I have my thyme and I’m also doing a crushed red pepper jar. I placed about 2 cups crushed red pepper flakes in a quart jar, then filled both jars with olive oil.
After a couple weeks, I strain the oil through a small-mesh strainer lined with cheese-cloth, discarding the herbs. I sometimes will repeat this step if the oil looks cloudy. Then I fill my labeled jars; if the oil is too herby (or peppery) I will cut it with some plain oil.
I repurpose my wine and liquor bottles, using wine pouring spouts as toppers, and I found some “chalkboard” labels that I can change easily.
I store my infused oils at room temperature for many weeks on my countertop, but you could refrigerate. I’ve seen recipes that require heating the oil and herbs; they don’t require the time that this recipe does, but those require refrigeration.
Any leafy herb, like thyme, rosemary, chives, basil, to name a few, works well. I’ve even gotten creative and used, in addition to red pepper flakes, peppercorns, lemon peel, garlic cloves, and purple onion. Once I forgot a jar of peppercorn for several months, and boy, was it HOT!
The garlic and onion oils tended to get cloudy quickly, so I store those in the fridge.