This year we are trying to focus on some love-filled homemade gifts. It not only saves on the budget but shows that you care enough to give your time. To save money I try to think about Christmas all year and pick up things when they are a great deal. My brother James mentioned this idea, and a week or two later I stumbled into a huge sale on the oil and bottles. Must have been meant to be .....
You will need:
Green glass bottles (1 liter) with corks OR glass oil bottles w/ stoppers- washed/dried
Extra virgin olive oil
A variety of herbs, spices, essential oil and/or flavorings (You can make many variations of herb-infused olive oil. Some suggestions for herbs and spices are rosemary, garlic, basil, bay, chives, dill, mint, marjoram, tarragon and thyme- Think of good salad dressing combos)
Spicy Garlic Oil: Granulated dried garlic, dried diced jalapenos, crushed red pepper, dried whole Thai chilies
Lemon Rosemary Oil: Dried lemon peel, Dried rosemary sprigs, lemon essential oil
Wash and dry your herbs. After washing, leave your herbs out to dry. Slightly tear or bruise the herbs so that they begin to release their aroma and flavors.
Once completely dried, loosely fill 1-2" of herbs in glass bottle. Use a funnel to pour in the EVOO and cover. Tightly cork/seal and let stand at least 2 weeks.
Create personalized tags including the type of oil, ingredients, and what you think its best for (salad dressing, dipping bread, sauteing/roasting veggies, marinating meat, stir-frying, etc).
Things to Keep in Mind:
- It is unsafe to put anything in the oil that contains any trace of water or moisture ( garlic, lemon peel, fresh peppers, fresh herbs, etc). The oil will not support bacterial growth but the water containing herbs will.
- Avoid a fresh garlic infused oil. They look great, they taste yummy, you see them in the Gourmet oil but it really isn't safe to make them at home without the commercial machinery. Buy dried granulated garlic, or use already flavored garlic oil for some of the EVOO.
- Garbage in=garbage out. You want to use a quality olive oil or the end quality will suffer. Also, you should use either fresh herbs that you dry, or newly purchased dry herbs (not the ones you got in a housewarming gift Spice Rack back in '01 and just never knew what to do with them....).
- This project requires some planning ahead. If you want to do a large volume, you will want to shop around in the early fall for deals on glass bottles and the oil itself (I scored mine for $7.99/2L bottle at World Market in October!!!!). You will either need to plan to make the oil a couple weeks ahead, or include when the oil will be ready to use on the gift tag.