Herb Oils and Butters

by Trisha

Herb flavored oil; butter or margarine can add new dimensions to your favorite recipes and save preparation time in the kitchen. They are also an excellent way to preserve the bounty of your garden and enjoy the robust flavors of your annual herbs all year. Also, because the flavors are intense and the oils are mixed in proportion to the herbs, you will find that you use less oil, saving calories, but not sparing flavor.

A word of caution: the FDA has issued a warning to consumers that herb oils and butters which do not contain acidifying or preserving agents like citric acid or phosphoric acid have caused potentially fatal botulism food poisoning. Clostridium botulism bacteria are widespread in the soil environment in our gardens and may be found on herbs and produce, including garlic. Normally, their spores are harmless, but they can produce a deadly toxin when in an oxygen free, low acid environment- even in refrigerator temperatures. They may be safely stored in the refrigerator for three to four days, but should be kept frozen for longer periods. These products will keep for about a year in the freezer.

Rinse fresh herbs with water and allow to air dry on a thick towel until completely dry. Turn occasionally and pat gently with a dry towel. Chopping herbs while wet can cause them to darken, which affects the appearance of your finished product. It is best to chop the herbs with a sharp stainless steel knife. Food processors can chop too finely, causing the finished butter or oil to look an unappetizing green color.

Experiment with other flavors and spices in your recipes: chopped green onions, shallots, cumin, chili powder, citrus zest, peppers or nuts.

Herb Oils

Mix equal parts of clean, dry, chopped fresh herbs and extra virgin olive oil or any other oil of choice. Allow the flavors to blend at room temperature for about ten minutes. To store, place in small jars or crocks with tightly fitting lids. Label and store for a few days in the refrigerator or longer in the freezer.

To use, remove from the freezer for about ten minutes before using. The oil should then be soft enough to spoon out the amount needed. Use in any recipe calling for oil. Choose oils to complement the herbs in your recipe.

Blends to try:
Rosemary with dried red pepper flakes – Use for making croutons, or stir into cubed potatoes before roasting them.

Oregano, basil and garlic in olive oil – Great for sauté

Article Type: Tip