Oregano adds a highly aromatic fragrance and flavor to your favorite cooking or salad oil, although olive oil is the traditional choice. Fresh oregano has the strongest flavor because it contains more of the plant oils. You can simply steep fresh oregano in cold oil, but it will take several weeks for the oil to absorb enough flavor. The heat-infusion method requires only a few minutes of hands-on time. Make the amount of oil you can use within a few weeks; otherwise, it may go rancid before you can use it.
Things You'll Need
- Cooking oil
- Cutting board
- Bottle or jar
- Tight-fitting lid
Wash the storage container in soapy water; rinse it thoroughly. Dry the inside and outside of the container completely.
Rinse the oregano in cold, running water. Shake the excess moisture off the oregano and pat it dry with a paper towel.
Place half the oil in a heavy saucepan and heat it over medium-high heat, stirring continuously, so it doesn't burn and start smoking.
Press the oregano against the surface of a cutting board with the back of a spoon, bruising the leaves to release their flavorful oils. Add the oregano to the oil and continue to stir. Use about 1 part oregano for every 4 parts oil.
Heat the oil until it reaches 140 degrees Fahrenheit on a thermometer. Maintain this temperature for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove the oil from the heat; pour it into a bowl and allow it to cool.
Mix in the remaining oil. Cover the bowl with a layer of cheesecloth and pour the oil into the storage container. The cheesecloth strains out the sprigs of oregano.
Store the covered oil container in the refrigerator for up to two months. If you leave any oregano in the oil, store it no longer than one month.
Tips & Warnings
- A cold infusion requires two weeks for the flavor to develop, limiting the oil's storage time once it's ready for use. To do a cold infusion, warm oil in a sauce pan; then pour it over the bruised herbs in the bottle. Cap it tightly and store it in the fridge immediately.
- Fresh herbs are more likely to harbor harmful bacteria, so you must keep the oil refrigerated at all times and use it in a timely manner. Substitute dried oregano for fresh if you are concerned about bacteria growth.
- Dispose of the oil if it begins to foam, develops a rancid odor, grows mold or shows other symptoms of spoilage.
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