How to Make Your Own Flavored Oils and Vinegars

By: Brandon Ketcherside

Making your own infused oils and vinegars is easier than you’d think. You can flavor them with fresh herbs, spices or fruit—or a combination.  They come together in minutes for a fraction of the store-bought version.  (Bonus: these make easy, elegant presents too!)

Master Recipe

WORK TIME: 20 Minutes / TOTAL TIME: 20 Minutes + Steeping Time / YIELD: 1C

  1. WASH and dry thoroughly 1 ½ cup packed, lightly crushed basil, mint, tarragon, dill, or cilantro. Put the herbs in a wide-mouthed glass jar.
  2. POUR in 1 cup of canola oil or apple-cider or wine vinegar. Close jar. Put in a cool, dark place for 2 weeks. Swirl every day to keep leaves moistened.
  3. DECANT the oil or vinegar into a sealable bottle through a funnel lined with several layers of cheesecloth or a coffee filter to catch the leaves.
  4. PRESS leaves gently to get all of the liquid. Cap the bottle, and store oil in the refrigerator up to a month or vinegar in a dark cupboard indefinitely.

Time Savers—Don’t have two weeks called for in the master recipe? Take these shortcuts:

Oil—Puree the fresh ingredients with the oil in a food processor until finely minced. Let it sit for 30 minutes.  Strain through cheesecloth or a coffee filter and use immediately or refrigerate.

Vinegar—Warm (but don’t boil) the vinegar before pouring it over the fresh ingredients. Cover and steep away from light for three days.  Strain through cheesecloth or a coffee filter and store in a dark cupboard.

Flavor Changers—Substitute any of the following for the fresh herbs in the master recipe:

Rosemary-orange (oil or vinegar): ¼ cup fresh rosemary and the zest from 4 lemons, cut into strips

Jalapeño (oil or vinegar): 5 whole peppers, stems removed

Pineapple-mint (vinegar): 1 ½ cup peeled, cut up pineapple and ½ cup packed, lightly crushed mint

Peppered strawberry (vinegar): 2 tsp whole black peppercorns and 1 cup sliced strawberries

Ginger-apple (vinegar): 3 slices of fresh ginger and 1 cup chopped apple.