Is Garlic in Olive Oil Safe?

I remain reluctant to dispense saftey advise on our blog (I outlined my concerns around bloggers claiming to be safety experts in 2011).  My learning is a combination of significant research, learning from others, extensive reading and practice.  I try to keep sharp (and safe) by re-reading safety material and find resources like the updated version of Putting Food By and The National center for Home Food Preservation to be fanstastic resources to guide my actions.

There’s a fine line between not commenting on safety and sharing best practice.  There are certain things that are generally accepted as safe and others that are generally avoided.  Rather than avoiding the topic I figured that it would be a good idea to answer a few emails we’ve had about storing garlic in oil

Despite growing up with jars of garlic-infused olive oil, the idea of storing garlic in oil on your counter is now seen as something to avoid because of the risk of botulism.  We had no idea the risk we were taking and I still don’t know how significant the risk is but I now firmly avoid storing garlic in oil.

Don’t trust me on that though – I looked to the National Center for Home Food Preservation’s guidance on the topic and they advise against the practice.  Instead they suggest:

  • Garlic submerged in oil can be kep n your fridge (under 40 farenheight) for up to 7 days
  • Garlic in oil can be frozen for longer storage

Although I used to love garlic-olive oil it’s something I don’t bother to make these days.  I’m bad at keeping track of how long something’s been in the fridge andthe risks outweight the potential benefits for me.

Infusing olive oil and honey can be dangerous.  Both liquids are low-acid and very dense; the combination creates an oxygen depraved environment that is ideal for encouraging the growth of botulinum spores (a good primer on botulism can be found on the website for the University of Minnesota’s Extension office).

Like any advice you’d receive from a stranger I’d strongly reccomend doing your own research and deciding what is safe for you.

Infusing Soya Sauce (with Tuna Sashimi)

Infusing is a relatively simple concept with a few guidelines:

  • place clean solids in liquid and wait.
  • Taste as you go; the flavors will intensify – to a point.  Eventually an infusion can go bitter (here’s what to do with an infusion that’s become bitter) or the solids can rot.
  • Infusions happen faster in warm temperatures than cold.
  • For fast infusing, chop the solids small.  For longer infusions, chop them large.

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Strawberry Rum – Intro to Preserving (Infusing)

Despite already sharing a booze infusion this week (the previous was for blueberry gin), I think it’s important we share the recipe for strawberry rum today as we’re precariously close to the end of strawberry season!

Unlike out blueberry recipe, this infusion adds sugar. You can omit it but sugar really helps pull juices from the berries and helps develop the flavor further.

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Blueberry Gin – Intro to Preserving (Infusing)

In my TEDxToronto speech I ended with a pantomime demo of preserving Blueberry Gin.  Since we’re coming very close to the end of blueberry season I figure it’s a great time to share some more info on this super-easy concoction!

This “recipe” takes 30 seconds or less to make and is a great example of how easy preserving food can be.

If you don’t drink booze, you can replace the gin with white wine vinegar (make sure it’s over 5% acidity; the label will tell you).

Blueberry Gin   Intro to Preserving (Infusing) October gin Easy Preserves Blueberry

Alcohol will preserve fruit.  Generally there’s two ways to do so:

  • A straight-up infusion (like this one)
  • A macerated (mixing fruit and sugar) infusion.  I’ll share an example of this tomorrow.

When you have an infused drink at a bar (if you can find one), the infusion tends to be fairly quick (i.e. a few days).  In my experience this is partially due to economics (a bar doesn’t want to hold on to inventory for a long time) and partially due to flavor.  A shorter infusion is less intense; a longer infusion can become slightly bitter (which is fine with me as we often add bitters to cocktails when we drink them).   The berries would often be crushed (this will change the color and add the juices to the booze) and strained before serving.

Don’t be worried about messing up – here’s what to do if your infusion gets too bitter.  The other option is to serve them with a simple syrup (water diluted with sugar or other sweeteners including honey or maple syrup).

When it comes to preserving berries in booze, I prefer to be a little more patient.  I give them a quick wash and, using my hand as a funnel, dump them into the bottle.  I store them out of direct sunlight and wait at least 6 weeks before using them.  They will last a year or more.

To use the product, you have 3 options:

  • Use the berries by themselves.  Awesome on ice cream but also edible on their own, paired with cheese, smoked meat, muffins or more.
  • Use the gin by itself.  Gin and Tonic? Oh, heck yeah.
  • Used together – in either of the above.

One cautionary tale: I preserved these berries in the original bottle, mostly because I liked the blue glass combined with the blueberries.  This is going to make it more difficult to get the berries out (compared to using a mason jar).  I’ll likely pour the entire thing into a large jar before using both.

Blueberry Gin – Ingredients

  • Blueberries.  As many as you’d like.  I used 1 pint (2 cups/ 500 ml)
  • Gin.  As much as you’d like but enough to cover the berries (I used a 1/2 pint)

Blueberry Gin – Instructions

  1. Wash berries
  2. Cover berries with gin.  Place a lid on container.
  3. Store out of direct sunlight.
  4. Optional: gently shake for the first few days (this helps remove any trapped air bubbles).
  5. You can use at any time but flavor will be more intense after 3-4 weeks (and even more so after 6 weeks).

Following our speech at TEDxToronto, we’re sharing at least 10 easy preserving recipes in the next 3 weeks.  If you’re looking for easy places to start, these recipes are for you (but note: the other recipes really are just-as-easy)!  The actual speech is expected online on Tuesday, October 8, 2013.

What would you do with blueberry gin?

Foraged Ingredients: Infusing Vodka with Garlic Mustard Root

So far this week we’ve shared about foraging for garlic mustard and shared an odd fermentation recipe for a combination of the roots and leaves.  The roots were frustrating to process (specifically to chop, grate or blend into small pieces without having the texture of wood chips) so we hanged techniques:

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Gin Infused With Cattail? Yes Please.

We’ve recently shared how to forage cattail as well as a recipe for how to eat it.  We also shared that it tastes like a combination of cucumber and zucchini.  So we thought today would be a good day to share a cocktail:

Cattail-infused gin!

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Infusing Vodka with Ramps (Wild Leeks)

Some posts need to give more credit than observation.  This one is completely credit to Samantha (you can find her on Twitter here).  The idea was brilliant:

Infusing Vodka with Ramps (Wild Leeks) Wild Leek Vodka Ramp Preserving Recipes [Read more...]

Use Simple Infusions to Extend the Variety in Your Pantry; Vodka-Peach, Apricot Brandy

Pur fruit in clean jars.  Cover in alcohol.  Taste a small amount each day. Strain fruit when done.  Eat fruit (at night when the car is put away and you`re ok with a tipple of trouble).  Close jar and seal in dark, cool place.

Infusions are that simple.

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Grand Marnier Infused with Blueberries – and Jam

When I do large amounts of preserving, it`s nice to do a few simple infusions.  They`re super easy, don`t take a lot of time and can yield amazing results.  They also provide an ingredient that can then be used for other preserving, such as the sam in this post.

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Wild Leek Infused Vinegar Recipe

This is similar to our chive-infused vinegar the other day.  I considered not posting it since it’s basically the same technique but I thought I would since wild leeks (ramps) are soon going to disappear for the year and it’s nice to have options.

Wild Leek Infused Vinegar Recipe Wild Leek Ramp Preserving Recipes [Read more...]