Subject: Re: Herbal oils and vinegars
From: Mcleodd.vax2.concordia.ca (Dorothy McLeod)
Date: Tue, 27 Feb 1996 18:19:47 -0500
My hands-down favorite herbal oil is a combination of basil and garlic. A head of garlic split up into cloves will flavor a couple of liters (quarts) of a good virgin olive oil. Then jam a good handful of basil sprigs -- make sure there is no water on the leaves and that they remain under the oil or they will mould. Try to use the pinkish colored Italian garlic. I usually add a shallot or two as well. Other good herbs to use are fennel, red chili peppers, rosemary, tarragon, bay, thyme and sage.
Something else that's really useful is to preserve sorrel leaves in oil. You shred the sorrel leaves and then cook them gently in olive oil until they just about dissolve. Pack them in jars and pat down to get rid of any air pockets. Add a bit of olive oil on top to be sure the sorrel remains covered. Great for fish sauces and quick soups, or just about anywhere you would use lemon in savory dishes (i.e. not desserts!).
As for vinegars, you can use just about any herb. One of the purple basils will make a beautifully colored vinegar. My favorite is made with rose petals. Cut the white heels off the petals of a fragrant rose and pack them into vinegar. In a couple of weeks, strain out the petals. Use the vinegar with walnut oil to make a salad dressing for boston lettuce.
Hope these ideas are useful.
From: information-junkie <wallacec1.TIGER.UOFS.EDU
Be careful with those herbal oils using garlic--unless you acidulateit first, it could be hazardous to your health.
From: Lawrence Willey
Botulism can only develop in neutral or alkaline conditions in the absence of air (oxygen). The usual method of preservation in olive and other food packaging is to lower the pH to 4.0 or less and add salt to 20 degree salometer in the liquid. The pH is about what you get from packing in vinegar and the salt content is like what you taste in spanish olives. The salt and acid pH keep bacterial action at bay but mold can still grow if exposed to air and fermentation (yeast) can still occur.
The usual method is to pickle the food (garlic in this case) first by letting it soak in vinegar and brine for a month or so and then drain it and cover it with oil.
Garlic is somewhat of a bacteriacide in its own right and I've never heard of anyone having trouble with it. I've made cold oil infusions of minced fresh garlic and the only trouble I've had is some rancidity. A hot oil infusion might be faster and work better. The safe route would be to pickle the garlic first. I don't have any specifics for pickling garlic but I hope this helps.
Lawrence Willey, Chemist
Biological Testing and Research Laboratory