Sunday, October 21, 2012

herb-infused oils...edited by the request of a friend!

in my last post i mentioned infusing olive oil with red pepper flakes and how much we love pouring that on our home-made hummus! yummeh!

 a friend, in her comment on that post mentioned that it was an unsafe thing to do. she then provided a link to a forum and when i checked the link, people REALLY were saying that is unsafe to infuse oils with herbs?!?!?!!?!?

this is absolutely crazy?!?!?!? europeans, middle easterners and asians have been infusing oils with herbs for thousands of years!!!

sometimes the internet is a great place to learn from....but you always have to be careful of your source! and from what i have been seeing and reading on the net's a bunch of ding-bat North Americans who are terrified of everything because they think everything contains salmonella and/or botulism! they are the ones that have been pushing the idea that raw milk is bad for you, don't eat eggs that come from chickens, and are terrified that fermented or home-made food can kill you! they are the ones who think that home-canned food is unsafe! and it drives me crazy!!!

listen, i am all for free choice! so if you want to eat over-processed, salt-laden crap food from the grocery store that is full of GMO's and pesticides - fill your boots! but stop spreading fear-mongering about natural, home-gorwn, home-made, very healthy for you food!!!

anyway, after that rant......for my friend...i took some pics from a few of my herb books for you that specifically refer to herb-infused oils. you can infuse oils with fresh or dry herbs. there are several techniques but i prefer the flat-out simple one - dump herbs in the bottle and fill the bottle with olive oil! you can also use mason jars or any other kind of clean jar.

this is a beautiful book that my sister, Helga sent me! i love this book!

as you can see, basil-infused oil and garlic-infused oil, is very popular! i only mention that because both of those oils were referred to as being especially unsafe at the forum that my friend sent me.

if anyone is interested, here is a link to a google search for "herb-infused oils" -,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.&fp=e8398791132636e1&bpcl=35466521&biw=1280&bih=962

here is a link to Martha Stewart's garlic and basil infused oils:

Martha's recipes call for heating the garlic, and blanching the basil. i make both types of oils by just dumping the ingredients in the bottle and filling with oil. like i said previously, there are a variety of techniques but those are simply due to intensity and taste.

people have been dumping fresh, clean, HOME-GROWN herbs into oil since the beginning of time! as i will continue to do - internet scare-mongerers be damned!!!


  1. I have been called lots of names, but never an internet fear monger! Gee, and you proved your point with a sledge hammer. Ouch!

    1. oh Practical P - i didn't mean that YOU were a fear monger - i meant that the people on the forum were! i am so sorry if it came off like that. i asked jambaloney to proofread to be sure that it didn't read like i was attacking YOU in my rant! honest to goodness - i almost died when i checked that link you sent me. i thought to myself - these idiots must have never made an herb-infused oil, or, if they did, they did it with store-bought herbs and stuff.

      please forgives? and understand that i took those pics and wrote this post so that i could provide YOU with evidence to the contrary of the people on the forum. i was trying to share with you so that you wouldn't believe those people.

    2. My name is in the title and four times in the post, so it seems I am the target of insults. You could have posted the information without including me. I have zero interest in infusing herbs or in herbal oils, so there was no need to address me. Those kinds of links are all over the internet. But, you chose to ridicul me. There are books published with very wrong ideas, not that your books listed necessarily are wrong. But, for me this is over. I have no more to say. Crazy North Americans?

    3. then i will apologize one more time and remove your name from the post. i will also re-state that i was trying to share and provide additional information with you.

  2. Kymber, I so agree with you!
    "According to the internet" is like saying "according to the nutjob that lives down the street and hasn't seen anything like a fresh herb or vegetable in 20 years".
    I'm going to be 56 on the 28th. I grew up in the US and Europe. Herb infused oils and vinegars, even FRUIT infused oils and vinegars, home fermented foods, etc have been a part of my diet since I got my baby teeth!
    If all the things that the internet says will kill people were FACTS, it is absolutely MIND BOGGLING that my grandparents or any of our ancestors survived at all!
    Currently, the main sources of salmonella and botulism are in USDA factory processed and approved foods.
    E coli? Factory farms, not home grown.
    I make several oils and vinegars that are infused. Neither I, nor anyone else that have used them have gotten ill from them.

    Seriously, reminds me of that insurance commercial where the girl says "They can't post it on the internet if it isn't true".

    1. Lamb - and with your background and upbringing you would know the truth! and yes, if all of the "deadly" things that the armchair experts on the internet spouted off were true, you and i wouldn't be here - and none of our ancestors would have made it either! and i have never met a single person who has had salmonella or botulism or e coli from home-grown/home-made foods!!!! thanks for stopping in and throwing in your 2 i say - it is nutjobs that eat USDA factory processed and approved foods that get these deadly diseases! thanks again!

    2. Kymber...I just had a thought that made me giggle....wonder what that forum would think if they knew my grandmother didn't get a refrigerator (not even an "icebox") until 1963! Until then, it was a springhouse. Also, my own parents didn't have a refrigerator when we lived in Europe for several years!
      Yes, I drank warmish milk (unpasteurized!The HORROR!) and ate cheese that had sat around in a cupboard for a day or two.
      How did I survive?

    3. bahahahahahah! Lamb - it seems that your ancestors, especially the most recent ones are made out of concrete! that is my scientific evaluation...and i have ZERO degrees in science nor do i play a zero or a degree on television. however, using my scientific acumen...i surmise that your ancestors concrete genes must have been passed on to you!

      did you just say UN-PA-SHTUR-IZED MILK on my blog?

      your comments will from now on be removed - bahahahahahahahah! thanks Lamb! for anyone interested in homestead living and living a good and true, healthy natural life...check out Lamb!

  3. wow - you know, it **never** would have occurred to me that a person couldn't just throw a bunch of herbs into some oil, let it sit, and then eat it without worry......something I've thought of doing, but just never got around to. Once, I think I did do it once years ago. I didn't go check out the site or link, just because I'm too lazy to click on it (my bad), and I doubt I would believe what it said anyway, but then again we follow the five second rule around here (if it (food) hits the floor and you pick it up in less than five seconds it's still good), but it's more like a two minute rule I'll refrain from also talkng about smelling clearance'm just saying we're not too picky and think some of those germs and things are actually GOOD for you.

    I keep wanting to figure out what this whole fermented business is about? I didn't want to ask and sound stupid, but now I'm afraid to google it, so, when you have time, kymber, do tell :)

    1. MM - i gotta tell ya - we have a 3 second rule around here because we are a tiny bit more....ahem...cough...oh i hate to say this...ahem...more civilized? bahahahahahahahaah! holy moly...if i find a scrap of a pot sticker or egg roll on the floor 3 days after i make it and i am in the right mood, i rub the piece of food off on my dirty leg (remember we don't wear clothes!) the piece of food needs to be rinsed, i rinse it and pick out all of the cat hair and - EAT IT! BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! and i am positive that you and jambaloney would only egg each other on in a smelling the clearance meat contest....oh ya! that's all me and your hubby need - you and jambaloney and your new "extreme" sport. gurl, puh-leeze - bahahahahahah!

      i will do a post on the fermented stuff. if you have the time, check out these 2 books on google books....if you haven't used google books before - google books gives you previews of books to read. the two books are Nourishing Traditions and Wild Fermentation. both can help explain the benefits of fermented food.

      basically if you live in a good and healthy environment, which you do, all of the bacteria in your house and yard are good for you. by living there and eating there and sleeping there, your body builds up natural immunities to any bad bacteria over time - because it is exposed to you regularly. and the bacteria that is good for you, is the bacteria that will end up in any fermented food that you make.

      i promise a more detailed post coming. thanks for asking. i find the way that i have learned about stuff i didn't about, was by asking others who i trusted. now don't you have some clearance meat to go and smell? and 36 kids to raise? bahahahahahahahah! oh my goodness...sometimes i just kill me!!!!

    2. rofl.....I'm not sure if you're kidding or I draw the line on hair - I can't stand the stuff. I gag at the sight of it in a drain and scream like a girl for my man to come take care of it. That's our deal - I do vomit and crappy diapers - he does dead things and hair. Match made in heaven. And I swear, I think of the two of each and everytime I smell my meat, seriously. That's kinda weird to admit, but your man is the only other person that I've even known to admit to smelling old meat. If my man even see's me smell it he assumes that must mean it's bad, so it's a private activity now.....I'm an in the closet meat smeller....hahaha!!!

      I'd love to read a post of yours on fermentation. I'll check out the books you mentioned, too. I'm getting old(er) now you know, so I figure maybe I should start thinking of my health more.

    3. I do that too- smell clearance meat, lol. And liver. Except they've come up with new fangled double wrapped packaging for liver now. Who's going to buy liver they can't smell?

      I'll second the request for a fermented foods post!

  4. I love infused oils.

    Can you blanch the herbs?

    1. Grand - there are a variety of ways to make infused oils and it depends on the herb whether you blanch it or not. some herbs you can heat before covering with oil, some herbs seem to be best dried out first (red pepper flakes). me, i like the good old fashioned and quick way of - gather the fresh herbs from your garden, give 'em a quick rinse, dump 'em in a jar, cover with really good olive oil....and let 'em sit. it's quite simple really. blanching and heating and all of that crap is for people with time....and a kitchen bigger than a closet - bahahahahahahah!

    2. Sardines in oil last forever. They certainly contain moisture. They are cooked.

      I guess that it is a tin of sardine-infused oil. :-D

  5. gee; having made up oil of cloves for my med kit makes me wonder if the scare comes from those whom rather have you buy it from a factory because they get points for doing so......


    1. can be sure that we have oil of cloves in our medkit - nothing better for a sore and aching tooth - nothing! i just find that there are a ton of consumers out there who have never seen, heard of, nor experienced homegrown, homemade food...and these are the fear mongers that are spreading disinformation across the internet...even if they believe that what they say is true! these are people who live near forests of pine trees and reach for aspirin for every little ache and pain.....pine needle tea people?!?!?!?!?
      if you are sore and have access to a pine tree and don't use it...and prefer an aspirin....then there is nothing that i can share with you.

      ack Wildflower - you got me ranting again and i try to be sweet on this blog! but some stuff just sets me off!

    2. there is a lot to be said about herbal medicals one can create for ones needs

      black radish sliced and covered in surgar or honey,wait a day, then have as a tea for coughs

      or black pepper and salt to quite stomachs when added to a fresh cup of caffee

      as for you ranting? are you? couldn't tell


    3. Hey now- I never knew pine needle tea was a pain reliever. You need to do a post about your medicine chest now too!

  6. I agree and you're's perfectly safe. I use dried peppers to make my special 'kick-ass' oils every year. You go girl.

  7. You are so right kymber! And PP seems a bit over annoyed and very sensitive.

    Anyway, the FDA tells us not to eat canned foods that are stored for more than a year -- pish posh! I recently found a quart jar of green beans my cousin gave me that were dated 2007. I cooked them with a bit of bacon, making sure to bring them up to temp. And, guess what? We are still here & they were delicious! So said me & our visitors.

    I have jellies from 2008 that, even after I opened them are still good. And, we're still eating from them. No mold on them yet. I had grape jelly on my toast from just such a jar this morning.

    Everybody has stomachs that are so used to processed crap that they don't know when they have real food that is GOOD for them. And, when they eat the GOOD stuff it makes their tummies upset. Read ... they have to go to the bathroom naturally without a freaking pill to make them do so.

    You don't have to follow the stupid FDA labels. Just make sure you follow your OWN instincts. If it smells bad ... don't eat it. If it's questionable ... cook it to death ... then eat it.

    Infused oils ROCK!!!!!

  8. geez louise! while i don't necessarily use infused oils, i like how they make pretty kitchen decorations. I would like to find a chicken infused bottle of oil; to go with my chicken theme. that would make for an interesting dinner topic. : )

    PS: I like to call those north americans who are so dang sensitive, and crazy "democrats" . Nothing taste better then a fresh egg right out of the chickens butt!

  9. Sweet Kymber,

    I love infused oils. Lived in Spain for 3 years and this was something we did all the time. I never once was sick.
    Recently, I decided to make infused oil as gifts for family and friends. I came across several of those websites advising if you planned on making infused oils as gifts to give the oil and herbs separately. Let the person receiving the gift mix the oil. Don't give the oil and herbs together because you can become ill. Talk about silly, worry....worry....worry. What happen to using common sense? If you open a container like a canned item or an infused oil and it smells funny, looks funny or the can doesn't make a loud pop don't use or eat the darn item.
    I'm not letting fear mongers attempt to control my world. I will continue to make the infused oils, can, and what ever else tickles my fancy. I'm 50 and not dead yet!!!!

  10. Yes, but look how many World Wars the Europeans have had! There are the two they admit to, and also a number of earlier global conflics (starting with the 7 Years War, aka French and Indian War) that go by other names.

    So even if you are not an agent of carceny (new word!) you are a warmonger! Warmonger I say!

  11. Kymber,
    I love your blog and have read you daily since coming over from Stephens blog about a year ago. I don't usually comment, but I have to support you on this topic, not only do I use oil and vinegar but also vodka. Echinachea and Yarrow work really well in vodka and are a must for your medicinal supplies. I have found that folks are afraid of things they don't understand or use, I trust my ancestors and my own intelligence and instincts. And I got a chuckle out of "ding bat North Americans, you got that part right!
    Thanks for giving me my first smile of the day, keep up the good work!
    aka Ding Bat Georgian

  12. I think you are being naive if you believe that all home grown food does not contain botulism, e coli or other diseases. These diseases are carried in 10% of all rodents! I seem to remember a mouse in your past. It is also present in many wild and domesticated animals. I can think or at least a half dozen recalls in our state from home grown food sold on the market due to contamination, namely in eggs and milk.

    I think you need to admit that these things are everywhere. What makes things safe to eat such as your herb infused oils and why I wouldn't hesitate to try some, is because I know you probably take great care to keep things clean and sanitary as you prepare it. You don't pick herbs that had been infused with pig shit earlier in the year for fertilizer. The reasons why you mainly hear about contamination in factories is largely because of their scale and the number of people effected. Two people dying in NS of botulism probably won't make the evening news where as a dozen people in twenty states might. Also, because of the scale of factories, it is harder to keep things as clean as they should making them more prone to infecting their product.

    I don't hesitate to eat eggs, milk and other products raw if I know the source and whom was preparing it. I say again I wouldn't hesitate to swallow any of your herb infused oil. But to cast a wide net saying that all processed food is bad and all home grown food it safe to eat, is simply not correct. Come down here and I'll show you some home grown food, not grown by me, that I wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole.

  13. Kymber - I'm firmly in the "heat the infusing medium camp " - and here's why - it's the moisture in the herbs that is the problem, not the herb itself. Since red pepper flake is dehdrated to begin with you are ok - but garlic, fresh herbs - absolutely heat them first unless you mean to use the oil quickly, like within a week or two of making it.

    From my blog post last year: <a href="</a>

    The unsafe way is to put anything in the oil that contains any trace of water or moisture. That would include garlic, lemon peel, fresh peppers, fresh herbs and spices. The oil will not support bacterial growth but the water from fresh herbs and peels will. Botulism bacteria can grow in this type of environment, even in a sealed bottle. DON'T just throw any ingredient into olive oil and let it infuse. You are just asking for trouble!

    Your best bet is to heat the olive oil before the infusing process to kill any bacteria present in the infusing medium ( garlic, herbs, chilis ) Heating the water in the garlic/herb/chili will remove any potential for bacteria to be present. It also speeds up the infusing process and instead of taking 3-4 weeks to develop flavor, the oil reaches a full flavor within a matter of days after cooking.

  14. I know what you are saying. We should not be afraid of food. Food is not our enemy. Sadly it has become the norm to buy pretend food that is very dangerous, and because of this stuff we have learnt to be afraid of food. Also much to my despair much of our imported olive oil is not olive oil at all and there may be nasties lurking about in there but of course we put herbs in oils and vinegars and even cook with them. But i think that if i were to say stab myself in the eye with a twig of thyme, or even a branch of rosemary for that matter, then it would be safe to say that herbs could be dangerous. Have a lovely day. Now i am going to go out and milk my cow and DRINK THE RAW MILK! Horrors. celi

  15. Hey hon - Geez, such drama over herb - infused oils ! Now that you've stated your case so proficiently councilor- the bench rests ! Bahahahahahah !

    Nice collection of books by the way - need more !?!?

    Love always sis,forever and a day !

  16. We haven't died from herb infused oils. Well, not yet anyways. And I guess that's the whole point from the other side of the argument, the "not yet". But it hasn't stopped me. But then again, I try to be pretty clean when it comes to our food, especially since I'm stuffing most of that same food down my 3 year old daughter's maw.
    But what another poster had mentioned about using only sufficiently dried herbs does make sense, although I'm guilty of putting fresh garlic in olive oil.

    And I didn't think your post sounded demeaning towards that lady, whatever her name was. Lighten up, says I.

  17. I must be one of the walking dead. Cook it, dry it, kill it, pick it, oil it, boil it, grow it, What ever. As long as it's not smurf brains, I'll eat it. OIL IT UP I SAY!

  18. "so if you want to eat over-processed, salt-laden crap food from the grocery store that is full of GMO's and pesticides - fill your boots! "

    How did you know! Actually I don't want to but no one in our house cooks. D

  19. Infused oils with dry herbs are great. The problem is when you use onion or garlic, or other "fleshy" additives, and fresh herbs or vegetables with their high water content -- the risk is especially worrysome in big chunks.
    The issue is Clostridium Botulinum, a nasty bug found in soil, and wakes up and proliferates in low oxygen environs (like garlic submerged in oil). To be technical: it thrives in low-salt, low-acid environment, in a medium without oxygen or refrigeration. It takes time to really get going, which is a reason that you shouldn't make flavored oils for gifts, or leave them sitting on the shelf.
    Clostridium Botulism its NOT something you want to eat as it's a neurotoxin. Of course, not always will it turn to deadly botulism, but since botulism is a risk, why chance it? Some strains have no outward sign, and the food smells, and tastes normal. A mild dose might give YOU a stomach upset, but it affects different people differently. Other people (little ones, or those with a compromised immune system) may have severe, life threatening problems.
    You can crush garlic and add it to oil several hours before using, (and keep refrigerated, and use it up within 3 days). That's not an issue. It's the long-term storage that is the problem.
    The good news, heat kills Clostridium Botulinum, so mincing the garlic or onion and frying it, until nicely cooked will work (3-5 minutes on high, stirring constantly. The goal is 180 degrees). This gives you more time, but still, this is not for long term storage, and oil decays so rapidly in a warm kitchen, in sunlight, and/or in bright light. Heating the garlic will add a much greater, broader, rounder, more complex flavor profile than just plunking in chunks of raw garlic. I'd recommend it for that reason, alone.
    The commercially made flavored oils may have artificial flavoring (chemical mixes which approximate the garlic flavor) or they are laced sodium nitrate, a preservative, to inhibit the growth, or phosphoric or citric acid. These additives can affect the flavor of the oil. (Not really recommended for home use, as getting the acid balance right without some commercial testing equipment is difficult.)
    Another good idea is to use sterilized jars and bottles to store the oils in. It's never a good idea to infuse in used, unwashed jars, anyway.
    Meanwhile, using dry herbs and spices it is a great idea to toast the herbs and spices in a dry frying pan until they heat up and release their scents (the oils in the herbs will overwhelm you with smells). Of course, stir the herbs, and tend the constantly, because you don't want to burn them, unless you want an off-smoky flavor. But, heating the dry herbs and spices will liven up the flavor in the oil. This is especially so for stale spices that have been on the shelf for a few years. Toasted spices and herbs will release more flavor into the oil. Be careful when heating pepper flakes, or "hot" items (bird pepper, long pepper, pepper corns) because a nose full/eye full of that scent will be an unpleasant, but memorable experience (one you won't be likely to want to repeat).
    Flavoring vinegar is a whole different issue, as the high acid of the vinegar protects you, well, except from a couple of other bugs...if the vinegar acid isn't high enough.That is a hole different post.

  20. I read the pre edited post and took your criticism as aimed as the internet fearmonger folks, not as the person that forwarded that info. That being said. I have to agree with some controls as to ingredients that contain fresh garlic.

    There have been large number of cases of botulism that have been traced to improperly storedn home-prepared mixtures of garlic and oil. Short refrigerated or frozen storage is necessary because all other conditions that favor growth of C. botulinum are met: low acid environment with pH higher than 4.6, anaerobic conditions (oil), food and moisture source (garlic), not boiled before eating.

    The reason for the concern is that unrefrigerated garlic in oil mixtures lacking antimicrobial agents have been shown to permit the growth of C. botulinum bacteria and its toxins, without affecting the taste or smell of the products. Toxin production has been known to occur even when a small number of C. botulinum spores were present in the garlic. When the spore-containing garlic is bottled and covered with oil, an oxygen-free environment is created that promotes the germination of spores and the growth of microorganisms at temperatures as low as 50 F.

    And yes, there HAVE been several cases of botulism with herbs and oil but as a previous reader stated, they tend to be with those
    ingredients that have have a high water activity level which further encourages the growth of C. botulinum bacteria in an anaerobic environment.

    Look, it's the scientist in me talking, but fear mongering aside, like any home canning and pickling project use fresh ingredients, watch your temperatures and storage and you should be fine.

  21. Sorry Kymber.. but any type of long storage or to be kept unrefrigerated and the "fear monger" is correct... which is why they give storage times for the oils when kept in the fridge.

    Just some fun info for you.. E.Coli and Salmonella are quite commonly found in the digestive tract of many animals. People.. cattle.. chickens.. pigs.. rats/ mice.. wild birds.. wild mammals... turtles.. fish.. you get the idea. It's found often in manure as a result. Manure is an extremely common soil amendment. The application of it is therefor regulated in both conventional agriculture and organic. To kill it off in compost requires 2 weeks of steady monitored heat while hot composting.

    Now there are TONS of different strains of this. While some may be mild and cause little more than feeling a bit off.. some strains are lethal.

    So if manure is applied at the wrong time in a field, or improperly composted..... (or hell.. a feral boar drops a load in a spinach field).. an outbreak can happen.

    It is everywhere. Thing is much of it we do not react to because we are exposed to it regularly. However.. most people consume imported produce. (This is the *same* reason why a kid can drink the raw milk off their family farm and have no issue.. but another kid of same age and health could have problems.)

    While herb infused oils do have a long history.. no one is immune to these outbreaks. Just 2 years ago E.Coli went through Europe killing over 30 and several thousand sick. That one made it to the news.. but isn't the only case. The best that can be done *anywhere* is to mitigate risk.

    Europe has their own regulations. The European Food Safety Authority created in 2002 in regards to dealing with existing and emerging food safety risks in their food chain.

    So lump those daffy Europeans in with us ding-bat Americans.

    Asia.. a big location with a lot of variation. Just last year was the 2nd Asia Pacific Symposium on Food Safety..
    "This landmark collaborative event will incorporate the 14th Australian Food Microbiology Conference (AIFST) and the 2nd IAFP Asia Pacific Symposium on Food Safety (Australian Association for Food Protection and International Association for Food Protection), with the participation of the International Commission on Microbiological Specifications for Foods (ICMSF)."

    It's awareness that has brought changes in food preservation methods even in Europe. My Oma did ferment, she did charcuterie, she canned, she smoked meats....... and she kept on top of current safety trends. The goal is good foods produced and preserved safely. It's not fear mongering.. it's mitigating unnecessary risk.

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