I have been busy picking my garden herbs and drying them out so I can use them over the autumn and winter months. The best time to harvest your herbs is just when the flower buds are forming but try and pick them before the buds open.
So with some of the dried herbs I decided to make some herb infused olive oils this week– these are brilliant to add to salad dressings, to drizzle over some pasta or even to have as an appetizer with some bread. Herb oils are really easy to make and they also make lovely gifts to share.
It’s really much better to used dried herbs in the olive oil firstly because there is a much more intense flavour - dried herbs contain all the essential oils of the herb and secondly you don’t want to put anything into oil that contains traces of water or moisture which fresh herbs can contain. This encourages bacteria growth so by using fresh herbs the shelf life of the infused oil does reduce dramatically. If using fresh herbs you will need to refrigerate the oil and use within one week. For dried out herbs in oil you can keep for anywhere between several weeks to a few months.
You can also combine your favourite herb flavours when creating your infused oils. Suggested herbs to try include thyme, rosemary, sage, oregano or basil. Dried out chilies are also a fun addition to give your oil a kick.
NB: To dry your fresh herbs, tie the stems into bundles and wrap them in a paper bag with several holes in it or a mesh produce bag and hang them upside down in a warm and dry part of your house. The drying process can take any time between 5 days to a few weeks depending on the herbs. Keep checking in on them fairly regularly.
1. Wash your bottles with soap and hot water or put them through the dishwasher and allow them to dry completely.
2. Take your dried herbs and place them in to the bottom of the bottle. Using a funnel, pour the olive oil over the herbs filling the bottle to almost the top.
3. Seal your bottles and store in a cool dry place. The oil will soon pick up the flavour of the herbs and will intensify in due course.
NB: if you do use fresh herbs make sure they are completely dry of water and follow the same previous step, making sure you refrigerate instead and use within one week.