Edible extracts are created by soaking a fragrant herb or spice in alcohol, allowing the flavor to permeate the liquid. Edible oils can be infused with flavor in much the same manner. However, this process can take a long time and have varied results. Strong extracts quickly infuse olive oil with flavor and scent. They can be drizzled over salads, used as the base for a marinade or added to savory breads, such as focaccia, for increased flavor. Store flavored oils in a cool, dark place in tinted glass bottles for the longest shelf life.
Choose an extract based on your intended use, such as a subtle addition to a sauce or the main ingredient of a bread dip. Choose a pure extract if you want your flavor to come completely from a botanical source, such as lavender. If you want a flavor that does not naturally exist, choose a blend of pure or artificial extracts, such as French vanilla, which is created from a mix of hazelnut and vanilla extracts.
Add the extract to the oil slowly, tasting as you go, until it reaches your desired strength. Use a clean eyedropper to control the strength of the flavoring. You can add the extracts directly to the commercial bottle the oil comes in, but flavored oil keeps longer in dark glass bottles.
Use infused oils in no-cook recipes. The flavor decreases when the oil gets exposed to heat, and olive oil has a low smoke point, so the oils are best used in salad dressings, dips or warmed sauces. The oil can also be used as the fat source in savory breads. Use lavender-infused olive oil alongside rosemary to create an unusual focaccia or baste the top of a pizza crust with basil-infused oil for extra flavor.
You can directly infuse an oil with the flavor or scent of an ingredient by soaking the ingredient in the oil itself. Do this only with dried or preserved ingredients, as fresh ones, such as garlic or fresh herbs, can add moisture and become moldy, making the oil unsafe for consumption. For a stronger flavor, you can use a flavor concentrate, but they do give the oil a cloudier appearance.
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