Homemade Holiday Gift: Infused Cooking Oils and Vinegar

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Making infused cooking oils and vinegars is ridiculously easy, but it's time to get on it if you want to give them out as Christmas gifts, since they do need to sit awhile in order to, well, infuse. Here are my handy dandy instructions as well as some resources you can use to get every thing you need for this project!
First off, let me just say that there is no cut-and-dried way to do this. You can easily play around with different ingredients that sound good to you to make an infusion you and your family will like. The ingredients I'll list here are just a starting point that you can use for ideas. Don't feel like you have to follow it to the letter.

To begin, let's define what an infusion is:

  1. A drink or extract prepared by soaking the leaves of a plant in liquid.
  2. The process of preparing such a drink, remedy, or extract.
To infuse either oil or vinegar, all you have to do is put yummy things in the oil or vinegar and let it sit and soak up all the yummy-ness.
You know how spaghetti sauce always tastes better the next day after you make it? After the spices and veggies and tomato sauce all muddle together really nice? You might say that the sauce is infused with the spices and veggies.
Got it?
Okay, so the first step is to choose a base:
Then, you'll need to decide what you're going to add to the base to infuse it. Loads of options here!
Infuse with…
  • Vegetables
  • Fruit
  • Citrus peels
  • Herbs
  • Spices
  • Nuts or seeds
  • Garlic
  • Onions
Before you add everything to the bottles, it can be helpful to warm it first. This isn't absolutely necessary but it does speed up the process of all the flavors melding together. To do this, add everything to a small pan and warm it over low heat. Oils should only be heated slightly, but you can get away with boiling vinegar if you want to.
Let the oil/vinegar cool a bit before adding it to the bottles.
The combination possibilities are endless, but here are a few ideas to get you started!
  • Olive oil + basil + garlic
  • Sweet almond oil + cinnamon + nutmeg + vanilla beans
  • Sesame oil + green onion + mustard greens
  • Rice vinegar + garlic + nutmeg
  • Grapeseed oil + peppers + cumin + chili powder

If you're going to be making these infusions to give as holiday gifts, I would suggest getting them together now so they have a few weeks to sit. If you put it off, though, just include a little note with the gift that says “Will be ready on X/X/XXXX!” They need about 4-6 weeks to infuse, though the longer they sit, the more flavorful they will be!

A lot of the stuff you'll need for this little project will be available at most grocery stores. If you want to shop online, though, you'll probably save quite a bit of money and get great-quality ingredients if you shop through one of my favorite sources:

  • Mountain Rose Herbs – A long-term favorite, MRH is my go-to for herbs and spices. They also carry the base oils. I thought they would have nice bottles to use, too, but unfortunately I didn't find any that I loved for this particular project.
  • Abe's Market – This is quickly becoming one of my favorite resources for natural goods – they have all kinds of products. You can really get everything you need there except, again, the bottles.
The bottles are where it gets tricky, as you can see. I have gotten them at Dollar Tree before, but it was a couple of years ago so I'm not sure if they still carry them – if you know, please say so in the comments!
There is a huge selection of oil and vinegar bottles on Amazon, and some are really fabulous looking! They are cool enough to just be a gift on their own. Here are some of my favorites, but definitely click through because there are just so many.
I hope this post was helpful – if you decide to make these for your loved ones, share your combo ideas in the comments!

homemade holiday gift idea: cocoa mixThis post is part of a series on homemade holiday gifts. Be sure to subscribelike, or follow so you don't miss any of the tutorials! xo

Original image: Bottle_Octopus1 by Amanda Siska on Flickr

10 Responses

  1. Wow, I never would’ve thought to do this! Love this idea, and makes for such a wonderful gift, especially for foodies! 🙂 Thanks for the idea and inspiration!

  2. I love this idea. Ideally I would want to use it as gifts, but, well, I might just “forget” to mail everything so I can keep it for myself 🙂

  3. Such a great idea! Great gift for a healthy new year!

  4. This is awesome! I am going to try this!

  5. Oh my gosh…I can do this!
    I never thought it would be so easy. thanks for sharing

  6. I just brought home some lemon thyme last night from my mom’s to make an infused oil!

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  8. […] Homemade Infused Cooking Oils and Vinegar – Add yummy flavors to oils and vinegar. Anyone who loves to cook will enjoy this one! […]

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