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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Herb-infused Oils

Drying herbs is challenging with the wet conditions. You need a solid week of dry weather to prevent the herbs from molding. One way to capture the essence of your garden's herbs before the season passes is to infuse good olive oil. My favorite combination is spearmint (!), rosemary, basil and garlic.

To start:

Use recycled mayo, pickle or salsa jars for infusing the oil. Save your wine bottles and corks for storing the finished product. Clean your jars, lids and wine bottles meticulously; sterilize so there are no leftover flavors. Collect your herbs before they go to flower. Cut, wash and dry your herbs on paper towels, removing any excess moisture. Place herbs and garlic with olive oil in the jars. Let sit for no more than two weeks. Strain the oil to remove all the herbs and garlic, pouring the infused oil into the wine bottle for storage.

When cooking with infused oils, use at the end of the cooking process so as not to lose the herb's intense flavors. Use your imagination with all types of herbal combinations such as basil, garlic and lemon. Try rosemary, sage, garlic and a few chile peppers for a bread-dipping oil. Dill and lemon is another favorite for adding a finishing touch to sauteed vegetables. This flavor combination also compliments grilled lamb. You can use the same recipes to create outstanding flavored vinegars. Don't forget, you can make plenty of pesto and herb-infused butters, all of which can be stored in the freezer for wintertime use. Enjoy!

(Note: picture of spearmint - an internet image)

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© 2009

© 2009 Ann St. Jean-Bilowz/Bilowz Associates Inc. (including all photographs, unless otherwise noted in Annie's Gardening Corner are the property of Bilowz Associates Inc. and shall not be reproduced in any manner nor are they to be assigned to any third party without the expressed written permission and consent of Bilowz Associates Inc.)