How to make infused oils and vinegars

posted in: Herbalism | 10

Making infused cooking oils and vinegars is ridiculously easy, they just take some time, since they do need to sit awhile in order to, well, infuse. Here are my 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.

What is an infusion?

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? It's because the sauce is infused with the spices and veggies. Got it?

How to infuse oils and vinegars

Okay, so the first step is to choose a base:

Infusion Bases

Then, you'll need to decide what you're going to add to the base to infuse it. Loads of options here!

Infusion ingredients

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

Labeling your infusions

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!

Supplies for your infusion projects

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:

  • Starwest Botanicals: A long-term favorite, one of my go-tos 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.
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!

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Kylie Wiser is an herbalist specializing in skincare and women's health. She shares recipes and resources on Everblossom to help others live a more holistic lifestyle. She lives in Fargo, ND with her huge family and lots of houseplants.

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