Infusing oils is easy. Just like the salt fusions, a few simple ingredients can transform everyday oil into a vibrant bouquet of flavor. And basil oil is one of my all-time favorites. The licorice perfume of fresh basil growing in a garden is intoxicating. I don’t use the oil for cooking; the flavor is too delicate. It’s a finishing oil that can be used on virtually anything. A drizzle here, a few droplets there, elevates an ordinary dish into an extraordinary taste experience. And now you can have it at your fingertips.
Recipe notes: What you will need: 16oz-glass Mason jar, cheesecloth, and strainer. Infusion is made in 3-easy steps. Active prep time 15-minutes. Difficulty level: Moderately easy
FYI: When infusing the oil with fresh ingredients, food safety is paramount. Unlike dry ingredients, fresh ingredients contain water, which allows bacteria to live and grow. Clostridium botulinum (C. bot) thrives in an oxygen-free environment like oil. This is why certain precautions should be adhered to in preparation, and in storing to prevent botulism poisoning.
- 2-cups firmly packed fresh basil, stems removed.
- 1-cup grapeseed oil
- ¼-tsp salt
- Bring water to a boil in a 2-qt saucepan.
- In a large bowl, prepare an ice bath to complete the blanching* process.
- Add basil to boiling water for 1-minute. Stain, and immediately submerge basil in an ice bath for 5-minutes.
- Strain from the ice bath, and gently squeeze basil to remove excess water.
- Transfer blanched basil to a paper towel. Layer with an additional paper towel and gently pat dry.
- Transfer basil to a blender, add oil, salt, and puree.
- Pour unstrained basil oil into beaker or glass jar and store in refrigerator overnight.
Next day: Let the oil sit for 1-hour at room temperature before straining.
- Place a double layer of cheesecloth in a fine-mesh strainer over bowl and strain oil.
- Gather corner edges of the cheesecloth and bring together to form a bag and secure with a rubber band.
- Pinching the banded portion of the bag with one hand, gently counter twist bag with the other hand to squeeze out the remaining oil.
- Discard pulp, pour oil into a spouted measuring cup, and let sit on the counter for a few hours. During this time, separation occurs. What’s at the bottom is leftover water from blanching and excess sediment.
- Slowly decant the oil into a glass jar and discard sediment.
- Store oil in the refrigerator for up to one month.
*Blanching is a cooking term for shocking either fruit or vegetable by scalding it in boiling water for a short period, then immersing it in an ice bath to halt the cooking process, soften the fibers, release flavor, and retain color.