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Old 09-02-2013, 09:26 AM   #1
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Fresh herb gardening

I have a small raised herb garden. I grow thyme, sweet basil, sage, Italian oregano, curly parsley, dill, rosemary and chives. I put lavander by my koi pond. I love basil with sautéed fish. Now I'm trying out various flavored olive oils. Any hints or suggestions? I'm also tring various drying and freezing methods for the herbs. What do you do with your fresh herbs?

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Old 09-02-2013, 09:40 AM   #2
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I have a small raised herb garden. I grow thyme, sweet basil, sage, Italian oregano, curly parsley, dill, rosemary and chives. I put lavander by my koi pond. I love basil with sautéed fish. Now I'm trying out various flavored olive oils. Any hints or suggestions? I'm also tring various drying and freezing methods for the herbs. What do you do with your fresh herbs?
I grow my herbs in pots because we don't have a big lot or much sun. Growing parsley, oregano, tarragon, thyme, chives, basil, lavender, and cilantro. Not having much success with the cilantro. But I only use that for salsa anyway. I use the thyme and chives in most everything. I just put some in some farmers cheese I made and it was terrific. The other herbs I use more in a catch as catch can manner. I winter over the thyme, tarragon, and chives. Everything else I replant in the spring if I decide I want to fuss with them. I don't do flavored oils because I don't have enough fridge space. Don't know how I will handle the lavender as this is the first year I have grown it. That may get transferred to a permanent spot in the ground.
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Old 09-02-2013, 09:55 AM   #3
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I had lemon thyme last year and used it on so many things. Couldn't find it this year, but the German thyme is ok, just not lemony. I don't store oils in frig. So far none have gone bad. But, I don't make massive quantities either. Just try to keep keep a few different oils on hand. Think I'll make a sage, parsley and thyme oil today. Should be ready to use in a couple weeks.
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Old 09-02-2013, 10:00 AM   #4
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That sounds yummy. Where is Pike County? I'm in Michigan.
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Old 09-02-2013, 10:09 AM   #5
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I had lemon thyme last year and used it on so many things. Couldn't find it this year, but the German thyme is ok, just not lemony. I don't store oils in frig. So far none have gone bad. But, I don't make massive quantities either. Just try to keep keep a few different oils on hand. Think I'll make a sage, parsley and thyme oil today. Should be ready to use in a couple weeks.
Infusing oil with any fresh herb or vegetable (or anything) grown in the ground is a BOTULISM risk unless you take very specific precautions.

It needs to be used or thrown out within 10-14 days. And must kept refrigerated
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Old 09-02-2013, 10:12 AM   #6
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You are risking botulism poisoning by making herb-flavored oils at home. It's the perfect medium for growing the bacteria, which thrives in an anaerobic environment. I did a presentation on preserving herbs for the Master Gardener class I took last winter and there are no procedures for making this safe. From Flavored Vinegars and Oils at the Colorado State University Extension:

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Garlic in oil. For added safety, the FDA now requires that all commercial garlic in oil products contain specific levels of microbial inhibitors or acidifying agents such as phosphoric or citric acid. Although most garlic products do contain these additives, some boutique or specialty mixes may not. Always check the label to be sure.

As for home-prepared mixtures of garlic in oil, the FDA recommends that these “be made fresh for use and not left at room temperatures.” Any leftovers should be refrigerated for use within three days, frozen for longer storage, or discarded.

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.

Botulism is a potentially fatal food poisoning characterized by blurred or double vision, speech and breathing difficulty, and progressive paralysis. Without prompt and correct treatment, one-third of those diagnosed with botulism may die. C. botulinum spores are widespread in the environment but cause no harm as long as oxygen is present. Also, the toxin produced by C. botulinum bacteria is readily destroyed by heat. Boiling a potentially suspect mixture for 10 minutes, plus one minute for each 1,000 feet above sea level, will destroy any botulism toxin that may be present.

Vegetables and herbs in oil. Several cases of botulism have been associated with home-prepared vegetables and herbs stored in oil. These products also should be made fresh, with leftovers refrigerated for use within 3 days, or frozen for longer storage. Vegetables have a high water activity level which further encourages the growth of C. botulinum bacteria in an anaerobic environment. Even when dried, there is still the potential for risk, unless the vegetable has been acidified to a pH of 4.6 or lower.
I have a large herb garden and have been growing and using herbs for over 20 years. Every fall, I dry woody herbs (thyme, sage, bay, rosemary) in dry vases and then remove them from the stems to replenish my dried herb jars. For soft herbs (basil, parsley), I whiz them in a blender with an equal amount of water, then freeze in ice-cube trays. When they're frozen, I move them to freezer bags. Then during the winter, I throw them frozen into soups, stews and sauces.

Where I live, the woody herbs, as well as chives, parsley and oregano, live through the winter most of the time, so I have them fresh all winter, as well as dried.
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Old 09-02-2013, 11:37 AM   #7
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Hmm, I researched before I made the oil. Then, there are an awful lot of source books on herbs which are wrong, aren't there? Wonder how they were able to publish by well respected publishers? Wouldnt you think that is a law suit waiting to happen? I don't want to risk botulism, that's why I process all canning. Guess, I need to do further research on flavored oils, which I love and cook with. Thanks for the info.
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Old 09-02-2013, 12:04 PM   #8
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There is plenty of info on the danger if botulism with homemade infused oils.

https://www.google.com/search?q=herb...&client=safari

The hard and fast rule is to use or throw within 10 days and always keep refrigerated
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Old 09-02-2013, 12:43 PM   #9
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Hmm, I researched before I made the oil. Then, there are an awful lot of source books on herbs which are wrong, aren't there? Wonder how they were able to publish by well respected publishers? Wouldnt you think that is a law suit waiting to happen? I don't want to risk botulism, that's why I process all canning. Guess, I need to do further research on flavored oils, which I love and cook with. Thanks for the info.
I tried to make herb oil many years ago when I first started growing herbs. After sitting in the sunny window for a few days, I noticed there were tiny whitish "strings" hanging off the herbs. I asked my husband to take a look - he was a science teacher, now an administrator - and he warned me about the botulism.

I don't think publishers are liable for what authors write. What books did you rely on for this information?
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Old 11-28-2013, 05:56 AM   #10
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I have Mint,Thyme, Parsley and Cilantro plants in our home, we have lavender as well but never tried oil making at home.
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