I’ve been a gardener for years. Here in Ohio, summer’s are short. My vegetable garden is planted in late May and only produces through September. Fortunately, I also have an established herb garden that is full of perennial herbs that grow from early spring through late fall every year, no matter what. Some have grown to the size of small bushes and provide an abundant supply of fresh herbs for myself and anyone else willing to take some off my hands.
Making dry herb infused-oil is easy but it’s a 2 step process. First you need to dry the herbs which can take up to 2 weeks. Making the infused-oil takes just a few minutes but it won’t be ready to use for 2 weeks or more.
You can easily dry fresh herbs 2 different ways. I use the screen method. My garden is organic so I just water my herbs and let the sun dry them. If you’re buying fresh herbs from the store make sure you wash them thoroughly and pat dry with a clean towel.
When my herbs are clean and dry I cut the stems 4 to 8 inches and lay them flat on a large, old window screen that is elevated on stools on both ends. It’s important that air can get to all sides of the herbs. Don’t stack them or set them on a solid surface or mold can form. I have my drying area set up in the sun room where there is plenty of light and air circulation. Depending on the herb and atmosphere in your drying area, it can take 6 days to 2 weeks to completely dry.
If you don’t have a screen, you can tie the stems with a piece of string to a rod or clothespin the stems on hangers. Make sure there’s room for airflow. You can tell your herbs are completely dry when they crumble easily.
Wondering what herbs make a nice dry herb infused-oil?
Some suggestions are: Rosemary, sage, oregano, thyme, basil, tarragon, dill, marjoram, cilantro, parsley and bay leaf.
Once your herbs are ready you can make infused-oil in one of two ways. You can either crumble your dried herbs or you can use the herbs, stem and all. For this step you’ll need the following:
1.) Clean mason jars or decorative containers with a tight fitting or screw top lid.
2.) Oil (I recommend Extra-virgin olive oil, safflower or sunflower).
3.) Dried herbs (Can be one kind or a mixture).
Place stems or crushed herbs in jar and fill with oil that is room temperature. Keep in mind that the more herbs you use and the longer the oil sits the stronger the flavor will be. Tightly cap and place oil mixture in a cool, dry place undisturbed for 2-3 weeks. At that point you can open and enjoy.
If the flavor is just the way you like it, you can strain the oil of the herbs to stop the infusing process.
The shelf life for dry herb infused-oil is much longer than infused-oil made with fresh herbs. You can safely store infused-oil made with my method for up to 6 months. There is very little chance of the infused-oil getting rancid as long as the oil is fresh when the process starts. By using dried herbs you’ve eliminated any chance of getting botulism.
With a little time and practice you’ll be enjoying homemade gourmet infused-oils on salads, as marinade and in cooking – and you’ll be saving money too!