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When I first tried the migraine diet, I quickly realized that vegans on this diet have absolutely no options for salad dressing. And that made me very cranky because salads should be an easy diet-friendly meal. However, if you can’t eat dairy, nuts, citrus, or vinegar, you’re up a creek. I don’t know about you, but putting plain olive oil (without the vinegar to balance it out) is unappealing. That’s where infused olive oils come in.
Infusing olive oil (or any light tasting oil, really) is a great way to add flavor to your dishes. You’re not limited to salads, of course. You can use the oil for dipping bread, popping popcorn, blending in hummus, or anything else your little heart desires. Though it is worth noting that some people say you shouldn’t cook with infused oils because it will make them bitter, but I use the jalapeno oil for popping popcorn and have never had a problem. Just a word of caution.
While you can use fresh herbs, I recommend that you use dried ones instead – although I’m going to directly contradict that sentiment by showing you how to infuse fresh jalapenos. However, the high water content of fresh herbs can cause the oil to go rancid. ***Please read Colorado State’s safety guidelines found here before attempting your own infused oils***
I chose to dehydrate thyme and oregano in my dehydrator rather than buy dried herbs. I think the oils look prettier when the leaves are still attached to the stem. You might be able to dehydrate herbs in the oven, but I haven’t had any luck with that method. The lowest setting on my oven is still too high for drying herbs.
Just like when canning goods, you need to sterilize your bottles and lids before you use them. You can find similar bottles here. Boil everything for a few minutes, then let them dry completely before filling the bottles with oil. You can use the drying setting in your dishwasher to keep them warm and sterile until you’re ready for them.
In the photo above, from left to right, I have thyme, dried red peppers, and oregano. I admit I didn’t really measure them out. Instead, I simply added the herbs and peppers until I either ran out of herbs or arbitrarily decided I had enough in the bottles.
For dried herbs and peppers, simply heat the oil to 200 degrees Farenheight and then pour the oil into the bottles over the herbs. 200 degrees is not hot enough to fry anything, but it is hot enough to burn you, so be careful. The oil will reduce in volume as it cools so feel free to fill the bottles all the way to the top. Once they had cooled completely, I topped off my bottles with cold oil.
For my fourth bottle of infused olive oil, I chose jalapeno. After washing, de-seeding, and chopping the jalapeno, I let it dry completely before adding it to the oil. I heated the oil on the lowest setting (keeping the temperature around 200 degrees) for an hour, then removed the jalapenos and bottled up the oil.
The jalapenos turn the oil into a gross shade of yellow, but it has a nice flavor. Like I said, it’s great for popping popcorn.
One last word of caution. The internet is full of contradictory advice about storing your oils. Some people say they are good for 3 days, some say they’re good for a month. Some people recommend storing the oil in the fridge. If the oil smells funny, assume it’s rancid.
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