This oil is a delicious kitchen staple in our house. Used as a bread dipping oil, poured onto fresh pasta or added to a salad dressing. The flavour is so intense and the aroma delightful.
We typically make a large batch of this each year. The steps below will make a small batch.
Fresh basil (see info on basil varieties below)
quality olive oil
Begin with fresh firm basil leaves. Rinse in cool water and drain.
Dry the herbs. You can hang herbs to dry, use a food dehydrator or if you have a warming drawer in your oven place a thin layer on a cloth covered cooling rack. The goal is the herbs need to be completely dry.
Grind the dry leaves. The smaller the pieces the more surface area there is which helps to extract the flavours. Do not make a fine powder as that is too difficult to strain later in the process.
Weigh out 1ounce and place in a small glass jar.
The next step is to add the intermediary. For this we will use vodka. The alcohol helps draw out the natural oils from the basil. Start out with about 1/2 an ounce. Mix into the basil with a fork.
You want an even damp mixture, not wet. If mixture is still dry add more vodka until the herbs feels evenly damp.
Cover the jar with a coffee filter or cloth and set aside in a shady area for 24 – 48 hours.
Place basil and vodka mixture into a food processor. Cover with olive oil. This will likely take 6-8 ounces of oil. Blend non stop for 5 minutes. The blender or food processor will likely start to feel warm. That is what you are looking for here.
Strain first through a cheesecloth. Squeeze out as much oil as you can. It’s messy but I grab the cheese cloth in my hand and wring out every drop I can.
Strain the liquid a second time using a coffee filter.
Store your infused oil in a glass container. This oil will last anywhere from 6-12 months depending on how cool and dark your pantry is.
Notes: There are many types of basil. Here is a sample of what we grow:
The large wrinkled leaf basils such as Mammoth pictured here is a lettuce leaf style. Mild in flavour, it goes well in a salad. It will work in this recipe but the flavour and aroma will be on the light side.
Sweet basil varieties such as genovese pictured here are used by many cooks. This is the variety most often carried in grocery stores. This style is what I generally use in this recipe.
Thai basil, often referred to as licorice basil is also very popular. It has a spicy anise flavour.
Oxygen, light and heat are the culprits to oils going rancid. A glass container with a tight lid keeps the oxygen out. Should you not have a cool dark pantry, this oil can be stored in the fridge. Oils stored in the fridge may go a bit cloudy, but they are still good.
Olive oil stored in dark glass bottles are typically better quality. They may be more expensive, but we have found they tend to keep better than the brands in a clear glass bottle.