Tuesday, April 26, 2011
ABC 4.2.8 O
OK, Here it is, ABC Wednesday time again. This is the day to join in the ABC Wednesday Challenge, and share a little bit of our world with friends all over the world, and learn about them as well, one letter at a time. You can participate too, in either the sharing, or the learning, or both, by visiting ABC Wednesday,Where this week, the letter is:
This weekend we head up to OPEN our trailer for the season.
It will also OPEN the market season, as we kick off a weekend selling herbs and crafts at the Maple Festival.
We have five OPEN AIR markets scheduled this year, so once the Farm Market season OFFICIALLY OPENS in about six weeks, I will be at the market every Tuesday through Saturday until OCTOBER.
But what I really wanted to talk about today was OLIVE OIL.
There are many ways to make Herbed Olive Oil.
Some ways are wonderfully safe and some are an invitation to botulism.
Which should we choose?
OK, that was OBNOXIOUS.
Lets review, the way to make Safe Herbed Olive Oil.
First of all, any herbed oil can be kept in the refrigerator from one to three days and be reasonably safe.
But beyond that there are some things to keep in mind.
While herbs themselves do not make very good hosts to botulism, water does. Any herbs with a high water content are more prone, therefore, to Food Borne Bacteria.
How do we start?
Well, there is no secret recipe to share. But here are a few tips.
The intensity of the flavor varies with the season, whether the herbs are wild or domestic, how the local growing conditions have been, etc. The oil will pick up the flavor fairly quickly, in the first few weeks, and then slowly intensify. It is fine to leave the herbs in for a long time; eventually all the flavor leaves the herbs and the oil flavor stabilizes.
But remember: It is unsafe to put anything in the oil that contains any trace of water or moisture. That would include garlic, lemon peel, fresh peppers, fresh herbs and spices.
Now I know, somebody will come along and tell me that their Auntie Grizelda has been making lemon peel and basil oil with fresh garlic and jalapenos for years and hasn't died yet. So maybe the odds are only 1 in 1000 that I will get sicker than a dog.
That may be fine for the other 999 people, but I always seem to be the 1 (except for when it comes to lotteries), so please be safe.
If you choose to use fresh dense moist ingredients, just make sure you store it in the refrigerator, use all the oil within a few days, and never, ever keep it longer than a week.
If you simply MUST use fresh garlic, pickle it first in a strong vinegar and salt solution. Commercial brine used for this purpose is as much as four times stronger than traditional pickling brines.
Or,(and this is the method I prefer) you could dry the herbs and other ingredients first. This will remove the water, while leaving the essential oils intact. A food dehydrator is faster than sun drying, and for this purpose, the less air exposure time your ingredients have the less chance they will have to pick up any other bacteria, so wash them thoroughly and dry them in a dehydrator. In order to dry Garlic completely it should be sliced thinly. Big chunks don't dry thoroughly throughout.
Try putting sprigs of dried rosemary, and thyme, and a dried red pepper into a bottle, then filling it with olive oil and capping it. Make sure you sanitize all your utensils and containers before you do this.
Oil made this way should be stable in your refrigerator for several months. But if you just make a small bottle at a time, it will never last long enough to worry about anyway.
Use it over potatoes, fish, on meats to be grilled, on bread, or get really creative and use a tablespoon of it to scramble eggs.
Once you taste it and start using it, it will be gone before you know it.