Having a steady supply of herbs through the summer is always a treat for anyone who likes to cook- and you don’t need much space to grow a good supply! A dish that starts out being a little bland becomes absolutely delicious with the addition of some freshly picked herbs. So come fall, when the weather starts to cool, it’s a shame to let your herb garden wilt away from frost. Instead, why not make the most of them by creating your own herb-infused oils?! We had some herbs growing in a planter outside the Bloomfield Greenhouse this year so I decided to harvest them and try just that.
First step in the process is drying the herbs. To do this I cut the stems off of the plant, tied them together in small bundles, and hung them up in a warm, dry place (in this case, my pantry) for a couple of weeks. For further details on the process of drying herbs, check a previous blog post we wrote a while back.
It’s optimal to give your herbs ample time to dry out if using them for herb infused oil. If there is any moisture in the herbs there is a chance of bacteria growth in the oil and spoiling the bottle. For this reason, it is unadvisable to add anything extra like garlic or peppers unless you plan to store the oil in the fridge and use it within a week after you make it.
When selecting your herbs, simply use what’s in abundance in your garden, or any combination of herbs that you like to eat. Olive oil is a common choice of oil to use but a lighter oil (such as expeller-pressed grapeseed or canola oil) will allow the flavor of the herbs to be more prominent. Once your herbs are dry and you are ready to make your oil, start by washing and drying your containers. Mason jars work well for this. Make sure that the jars are completely dry so that there is no water for bacteria to grow in. Add your herbs into the clean jars and bruise them gently with the back of a spoon, allowing their flavors to release. Then fill the jar with the oil of your choice and seal it.
Allow the jar to sit in a cool, dark place for a week or two to allow the flavors to infuse, tasting it every so often to see if it is to your liking. You can then strain the herbs out and discard them or leave them in there for aesthetic appeal. Herb infused oils can be used in salad dressings, on pasta, or in anything that you would typically use oil for, to give your dish an extra flavor boost. The final product should be good for a few months after you make it.
This blog was written by Meghan Doucette