Herb Oils

Making herb oils is very simple.

Take about 1/4 pint (100ml) good quality olive oil and add some washed and dried herbs or good quality dried herbs - approximate quantities are listed under each herb below - combine in a bottle or jar with a tight fitting screw top lid.

Shake the bottle every day for about two weeks.

Once that time has passed, your oil should be smelling quite strongly of the herb.

Strain it to remove the old herb and add some fresh. If it doesn't smell strong enough, then continue the process for a further week.

By this time, your herb oils should be ready to use.

Using Herb Oil
I use herb oil in salad dressings, for softening onions etc in the preparation stages of cooking a complete recipe and to make herby croutons.

Herb Croutons
Heat some flavored oil in your frying pan and quickly fry small cubes of bread until they are crisp and golden.

Alternatively, put some oil in a bowl and stir in your cubes of bread - stir well so that they are thoroughly coated.

Then spread on a baking sheet and bake in the centre of a hot oven for about 5 minutes - it's a risky method as I normally burn them this way - I prefer the frying pan method :-)

Also, you can brush the crusts of bread prior to baking to give a delicate herby flavour.

Below is a list of common herbs used to make oils and their main uses. It is by no means an exhaustive list - tastes differ and you must do what you think you'd like best.

Basil Oil
About a dozen fresh leaves or about 1 tspn dried

Basil is excellent with tomatoes, so you can use it in any salad dressing.

Use in the softening stage of all tomato pasta sauces.

Basil flavoured croutons to accompany tomato based soups.

Brush onto shellfish, sole or mackerel prior to grilling.

Drizzle over grilled or baked tomatoes.

Heat basil oil to make an omelette extra tasty.

Bay Leaf Oil
2 bay leaves - fresh or dried.

Use to brush any meat prior to grilling or roasting.

Bay is a universal herb in tenderising meat, so it's suitable for any.

Also stronger flavoured fish would benefit from brushing prior to grilling or barbecueing.

Chive Oil
6 leaves - 2 tspn dried

A lovely delicate onion flavour.

Heat some oil in a pan to make an omelette.

Make chive herb croutons to accompany asparagus, potato, cauliflower or cheesey based soups.

Use to soften onions or garlic in the preparation stages of any recipe that uses onions or garlic :-)

Brush on plain grilled meats or fish of any type.

Dill Oil
3 fronds - 1 1/2 tspn dried

Dill has a 'sharp' flavour and will make bland food much more interesting.

Excellent with advocado - so make a salad dressing with it.

Dill croutons with fish soups and any chicken, tomato, asparagus or 'pulse' (beans, peas etc) based soups.

Drizzle on warm asparagus.

Brush on plain grilled halibut, trout, mackerel, snails - most fish will benefit from dill oil.

Use it to rub the chicken skin prior to roasting.

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