Monday, September 26, 2011



We recently ate at a new Greek restaurant in Morehead City, where we were served artisan bread and dipping oil.  The oil was flavored simply with a fresh rosemary stem.


It looked appetizing in the bottle, but the oil was completely flavorless.  This started my hubby remembering the luscious dipping oils he tasted on business trips to Chicago, and he set out to duplicate those flavors. 
An internet search the following day turned up an interesting recipe for flavored olive oil.  All the herbs used in the recipe were dried, but our pantry was missing dried rosemary and parsley.  He substituted fresh, since that’s what we had.  And he was so excited, he more than doubled the recipe.   That night, a simple dinner of sauteed mussels with bread and oil was soul satisfying.


But something was nagging at Guy, something he seemed to not quite remember, so he did another internet search.  He found that, “…there are safe and unsafe ways to make infused olive oil.  The unsafe way is to put anything in the oil that contains any trace of water or moisture.  That would include garlic, lemon peel, fresh peppers, fresh herbs and spices.  The oil will not support bacterial growth, but the water containing fresh herbs will.  Botulism bacteria can grow in this type of environment, even in a sealed bottle.”

We found that we needed to use this oil up quickly and keep it refrigerated, and that salt and vinegar added to the oil help to retard bacterial growth.  (Think salad dressing using a lesser amount of vinegar.) After a few days, I strained out the herbs and used the remaining infused oil every way possible.  Next time, we won’t make quite as much so it can be used up quickly.  And I’ll never give it as a gift! 


Herbed Oil for Dipping Bread like Carrabba’s
Adapted from Robbie’s Recipe Collection
Rating:  9.5 out of 10
1 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried rosemary
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. parsley flakes
1 tsp. granulated garlic
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, best quality you can afford
2 tsps. balsamic vinegar

Combine all ingredients in a bowl or bottle.  Let flavors infuse several hours before using.  Fresh herbs may be substituted, but it’s best to wash, dry, then sun-dry them first to remove water.  Whether made with all dried herbs or a combination of fresh and dried, the infused oil should be used as quickly as possible (within a week or so) and kept refrigerated when not in use.  Be aware that even trace amounts of water in any of the ingredients can cause dangerous botulism bacteria to grow in the mixture.  DO NOT GIVE AS GIFTS!


Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

I've read the same thing about spoilage. Pays to be super careful. Thanks Guy for the research. Can't wait to give it a try.

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

Well,well, well, you learn something new every day. I never knew that. Thanks for the information. Diane

Coleen said...

What an excellent idea!! I can see holiday gift giving here.

Judy said...

I hope not, Coleen. As stated above, I'll never give dipping oil as a gift. Too dangerous.

teresa said...

that's interesting, i never knew. it does sound good!

Anna said...

Judy, I agree. Too dangerous to give as a gift. I make it all the time for the family, but I just mix dried herbs with good olive oil and serve it fresh.

Biz said...

Yep, I decided one year to give out flavored oils for Christmas and decided to do a dry run around Thanksgiving, and quickly realized that mold was forming on my rosemary!

I don't know if you saw my recent post, but I tried mussels for the first time and really liked them!!

Judy said...

Biz, that is so scary. Home cooks are trying new things as never before, and we're not always aware of some of the dangers. Hence, my post.

Jay said...

sounds flavorful n yummmm...:)
Tasty Appetite