Flavored olive oil made with different herbs, spices, and fruits, is sought after for use in many cooking recipes. Some of the most common infused olive oil flavorings include: rosemary, garlic, oregano, sage, basil, red and black peppers, and of course citrus zests. This article covers how to make a citrus infused olive oil which is great for pasta recipes, salads, and in any recipe that calls for olive oil and could use a citrus kick.
First a warning about Botulism. Botulism is a bacteria that produces a deadly toxin in foods contaminated with it. The bacteria is anerobic, meaning it cannot survive in an oxygen containing environment. The same thing that makes olive oil a good perservative, the fact that it seals out air, makes it a good breeding ground for botulism. It is important to heat the oil to 200 degrees for a period of 10 minutes to insure that all bacteria that might have been introduced with the flavorings has been killed. This heating is done when preparing the infused olive oil to ensure its safety. It will not remove the botulism toxin from any oil that has gone bad from the bacteria. Any oil that shows signs of having gone bad should be destroyed.
The ingredients needed for making citrus infused olive oil are a simple and short list.
2 medium lemons with bright, unblemished skins
1 cup of virgin Olive oil
A citrus zester or sharp paring knife
A stainless steel sauce pan, do not use aluminum as the citrus will react with it
A candy thermometer
A sieve or some cheesecloth
You will also need a storage bottle for the finished oil. The original olive oil bottle will do, as it will seal tightly and it will already be clean as the oil was just in it. A dark colored sealable jar should be used or a canning jar can be used if it is kept stored in a dark place. Sunlight will cause olive oil to break down and go bad sooner.
Zest the lemons, making sure to only use the colored layer of the skins as the white pith will impart a bitter taste. You can freeze the lemon juice in a ice cube trey for use later in other recipes.
Add the zest to the oil and heat it in the pan to 200 degrees, just under boiling. You want the oil with the citrus zest to barely simmer for 10 minutes. Allow to cool
Be sure any bottle being used is dry as any water will make the oil go cloudy and could introduce bacteria. Pour the cooled citrus infused oil through the sieve or a layer of the clean cheesecloth to strain out the zest. Pour the oil into the bottle and seal tightly. The infused oil can be stored in the refridgerator for some 4 months or it can be used right away.
Many flavor infused olive oil recipes call for simple adding the ingredients to the oil and letting it sit for a few days or week so the oil will acquire the flavor. This can be very dangerous because of the real danger of botulism.