Make: Chilli, garlic and herb infused olive oil

The next addition to my Christmas gift hampers will be chilli, smoked garlic and herb infused olive oil.

Olive oil carries flavours fantastically and this is a brilliant way to capture fresh flavours in a bottle. It’s also a tasty way to to recycle old wine bottles and use up any herbs that are waiting to be harvested before the frost comes. It’s fairly swift to make too, you just need to be a little patient whilst waiting for the oil to infuse.

I’ve used pomace olive oil here, which is a little less expensive than virgin olive oil but still very tasty. Virgin olive oil is cold pressed whereas pomace oil is hot pressed, its just a slightly lower grade of olive oil. I picked up this 5 litre drum from my local supermarket.

For this batch of infused olive oil i’ve used the following:

  • 6 empty wine bottles, i’ve used little ones here too. 4 small bottles are equivelant to 1 large bottle
  • 5 litres pomace olive oil
  • fresh whole chillis washed- i’ve allowed for one or two per bottle
  • fresh herbs washed- i’ve used sage and rosemary
  • 1 bulb of smoked garlic
  • a handful of juniper berries
  • a handful of pink and black peppercorns
  • a funnel to help decant the oil into bottles

The possibilities are endless, you could use all or just one of the above ingredients. Other delicious variations are Cinnamon, lemongrass, curry leaves, cumin, fennel, caraway, citrus, etc, etc, etc!

Step one- steralise your bottles this can be done with some hot soapy water, rince well to make sure no soap bubbles remain, then leave the bottles upturned to dry.

step two- Evenly distribute the herbs, chillis, garlic and peppercorns amongst the wine bottles. I’ve used assorted sizes of bottles, so i’ve used two cloves of garlic and two chillis in the larger bottles and one chilli and garlic clove in the smaller bottles.

step three- gently warm your olive oil on the stove to about 75 degrees- do not boil it as it will be too hot to handle. Place a funnel in the top of a wine bottle and carefully pour in the warm olive oil.

The oil should be ready to use in 3-4 weeks time. It’s great to use for salad dressing, can be used in stir frys to enhance flavour or paired with a good balsamic vinegar this is perfect for dipping  foccacia into!

The oil lasts for up to three months, or until the herbs begin to loose their colour. The oil does not preserve the herbs, garlic and chilli, only their flavour. To make the oil last longer the herbs, garlic and chilli can be strained out, and the oil re-bottled.

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15 thoughts on “Make: Chilli, garlic and herb infused olive oil

  1. kerrycooks says:

    Smart – I like how you used wine bottles to recycle them – very clever!

  2. Your Christmas hampers are really sounding wonderful and I can’t to see what else your going to be adding. Recycling old wine bottles and filling them with flavoured oils is such a fantastic idea. Thanks for sharing

  3. Labrynthe says:

    Gorgeous photography! And a brilliant idea! I might make one for my gran ^^

  4. kate says:

    FYI; make sure there is no water on any of the herbs, spices, or bottles, as this is where bacteria can grow. garlic can also encourage bacteria growth, to help prevent this remove the garlic after the flavor is infused.

    • makedospend says:

      Yes, make sure all equipment and ingredients are clean and dry before you begin. Also, replacing the fresh chillies, garlic and herbs in the recipe above with dried chillies and garlic would be a good alternative to fresh if you wanted the oil to last longer than the 3 months recommended above, though the flavour will be less intense.
      If you are really worried about bacteria, strain out the herbs and garlic after the recommended 3-4 week infusing period and rebottle the oil without them.

  5. Kay says:

    The galic appears to be unpeeled in photos is that right. How common is the threat of botulism. I need to post the hamper so it will not be refrigerated whilst in the mail will that be a problem. Thanks for any suggestions

    • makedospend says:

      Botulism isn’t common, but if you are worried dry your garlic out in the oven the day before you want to make your oil and allow it to cool overnight. The skin of the garlic has no flavour so can be peeled or unpeeled, I didn’t peel mine to give it a rustic look, also see the above comment for suggestions on how to make your oil last longer

  6. NAZAR says:

    hi thank you for this recipe it looks so nice and easy to make it !

  7. I followed your recipe, but my oil quickly went cloudy. When I did some online research I found that using fresh ingredients in oil can be very dangerous due to the high risk of botulism and that only dried ingredients are really ok to use. This is something to do with the water content of fresh foods, see link,

    http://umaine.edu/publications/4385e/

    I have now had to dispose of my oil which was supposed to make some lovely Christmas presents.

    • makedospend says:

      Hi Julia, thanks for taking the time to feedback,
      i’ve never encountered this problem before so to understand what went wrong here I would need to know a little more about the process you used. If you can give me a little more info i’d be happy to help.
      As you’ll see in the comments above i’ve researched the botulism issue myself and it’s highly uncommon providing you don’t deviate from the sterilisation process and use the oil within three months as stated in the recipe.

  8. You should always split the side of your chillis open in order to allow the oil to fill in the void in the centre of the chilli so that it doesn’t allow mould to develop.

    Also, heating the herbs etc in the oil when you warm it should prevent cloudiness and enhance the flavour.

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