Infusing flavorful liquids, such as oils and vinegars, boosts their overall flavor—making them powerful additions to any dish without affecting the nutritional content in a negative way. To make your own infused oils and vinegars, use any of the following methods:
- Heat the oil or vinegar very gently over low heat. The flavoring ingredients, such as citrus zest or garlic, may be added to the oil or vinegar as it warms. Let the oil or vinegar steep off the heat with the flavoring ingredients until cool, and pour into storage bottles or containers.
- Heat the oil or vinegar without any added flavorings, then pour it over the flavoring ingredients and cool. Pour the infused oil or vinegar into storage containers.
- Purée raw, blanched, or fully cooked vegetables, herbs, or fruits. Bring the purée to a simmer and reduce it, if necessary, to concentrate the flavors. Add the purée to the oil or vinegar and transfer to a storage container. Leave the oil or vinegar as is and use it like a purée right away, or strain it to remove the fibers and pulp for longer storage.
- Combine room-temperature oils or vinegars with ground spices and transfer them to a storage container. Let the mixture sit until the spices have settled in the bottom of the container and the vinegar or oil is clear.
Refrigerate the flavored oil or vinegar to rest for at least 3 hours and up to 36 hours. The time will vary according to the intensity of the flavoring ingredients and the intended use. Taste the oil or vinegar occasionally and, if necessary, strain or decant it into a clean bottle.
Strain the vinegar or oil before storing under refrigeration. Use a fine mesh strainer or a coffee filter fitted over a glass jar or bowl.
Update: any organic materials added to a low-oxygen environment, like a jar of oil, has the potential to introduce harmful bacteria. Be sure your ingredients are clean and dry and equipment is sterilized. Store strained oils in the refrigerator.
Ready to try infusing oils? Try the chile-garlic oil in this noodle recipe to get started: