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Old 11-28-2004, 06:08 AM   #11
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Safety First in Making Flavored Oils and Vinegars
By Libby Colbert, Colorado State University
Cooperative Extension, Arapahoe County
August 4, 2000

Homemade flavored vinegars and oils can enhance recipes the healthy way without the use of salt or butter-rich sauces.

These tasty condiments also are great for gift giving or neighborly sharing -- with one caution: Although these products are relatively simple to preserve, safeguards are necessary to ensure products do not contain harmful, or even dangerous bacteria - which would not be so neighborly!

Colorado State University Cooperative Extension agents also suggest being wary of herb flavored vinegars and oils available at farmers' markets and other outlets where unlabeled products might be sold.

Because commercially prepared vinegars and oils can be expensive, people are eager to try preserving them at home. Garlic and sundried tomatoes in oil are especially popular, but difficult to duplicate safely at home. Commercial processing methods use equipment and chemical additives (microbial inhibitors) not available to the home canner. Flavored vinegars are easier than the oils to preserve safely at home.

Vinegars
The high acidity of vinegars prevents the growth of Clostridium botulinum bacteria, the deadly bacteria that causes botulism. Some vinegars, however, can support the growth of E. coli bacteria, so precautions are advised.
Precautions
Use clean sanitized jars. Immerse jars/bottles in boiling water for 10 minutes.
Work with thoroughly cleaned herbs and produce. Dip them in a solution of one teaspoon of household bleach per six of cups water. Rinse in clear running water.
Heat the vinegar to just below boiling.
Place desired herb(s) in the sanitized bottles or jars and add hot vinegar. Tightly cap and store in a cool clean place for three to four weeks.
Once the flavor is developed, strain the vinegar one or more times using damp cheesecloth or coffee filters until the vinegar is no longer cloudy.
Pour the strained vinegar into a clean sterilized jar/bottle adding a sprig or two of fresh herbs (or berries) that have been sanitized as above.
Seal and store in the refrigerator. For best flavor, use within three or four months.

Flavored oils
Infused oils and oil-based mixtures (garlic, dried tomatoes, herbs) definitely can be hazardous if not properly prepared AND refrigerated. The Food and Drug Administration (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. Some boutique and specialty mixtures may not contain these additives, so always check the label to be sure.

FDA recommends that home-prepared mixtures of garlic-in-oil be made fresh for use and not left at room temperatures. Leftovers should be refrigerated and used within three weeks, or frozen or discarded. (In other parts of the country where Type E Botulism is more prevalent, 10 days is the recommended storage time limit in the refrigerator.) Remember, the growth of bacteria and toxin-causing botulism does not alter the taste or smell of the product!

The danger of other vegetables in oil (whole chilis, fleshy vegetables or herbs) is less documented than garlic in oil. They are, however, best made fresh, then refrigerated and used within 10 days. To ensure safety, dried tomatoes and herbs in oil also should be stored in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.


Experimenting with one's favorite herb flavors is a creative cook's prerogative. One chef made infusions with basil, peppers and garlic in olive oil, which he used for salads, lean chicken and fish dishes. He suggested vanilla oil for lobster and juniper oil for venison.
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Old 11-28-2004, 10:04 AM   #12
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I have some mushrooms in the fridge that I have to do something with 'today'. I had no idea they could be frozen! Do they still seem like fresh when using them from the freezer? (for cooking... not on salad or anything that you'd 'need' fresh)
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Old 11-28-2004, 10:19 AM   #13
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Spryte, I'd saute them up first, then freeze.
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Old 11-28-2004, 11:35 AM   #14
 
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Spryte. I just freeze them....no sauteeing.

I use them in stews, soups, whatever, just from the freezer. Of course, the texture is not like fresh, but the flavor is still there.
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Old 11-28-2004, 01:02 PM   #15
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Thanks for your ideas....I will always slice/chop/freeze a few red peppers when they are on sale at the grocery but I never thought of the others....I almost always have onions and celery on hand, but if freezing doesn't affect them for cooked dishes - that's a great idea! Even the mushrooms - slice in the egg slicer and flat freeze, then stow in a zip lock!
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Old 11-28-2004, 02:27 PM   #16
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Lazy Food Prep

When I have Spryte's dilemma (have a little bit if mushrooms and I've got to do something with them today) I combine them with bits of odds and ends such as last of the scallions or the last tomato or some bits of bell pepper, etc. and cook some rice and then make some fried rice.
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Old 11-28-2004, 02:31 PM   #17
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Thanks! I'll give it a try!
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Old 11-28-2004, 02:53 PM   #18
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Lazy Food Prep

Spryte, what do you mean by "you're not licking toads"? Explain your reply, please.
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Old 11-30-2004, 07:30 PM   #19
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Re: Lazy Food Prep

Quote:
Originally Posted by honeybee
Spryte, what do you mean by "you're not licking toads"? Explain your reply, please.
Hi Honeybee,

I couldn't help "sricking my nose in"! :-) That wasn't Spryte's reply - that's a "quote" which you will see at the end of each message he/she posts.

Hope this helps? :)
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Old 12-02-2004, 11:12 AM   #20
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Re: Lazy Food Prep

Quote:
Originally Posted by honeybee
Spryte, what do you mean by "you're not licking toads"? Explain your reply, please.
i stick my nose in too, if that's ok. honeybee, it's a quote from a simpson's episode. homer was licking toads to try to hallucinate, and when he was asked if he was doing it, he replied, "i'm not not licking toads"...
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