Homemade herb-infused oils, vinegars, and honey are versatile pantry items that add beautiful color and flavor to all sorts of dishes. They are also a great way to extend the flavors of summer's herbal bounty.
Herb-infused oils are perfect for finishing pasta, grilled vegetables, fish, and poultry; infused vinegars punch up the flavor in dressings; and infused honeys add subtle flavor to tea, hot cereal, yogurt, and desserts. This week I've experimented with infused honey and olive oil; I also plan to make some herb-infused vinegars soon.
Wash, dry, and roughly chop lemon balm leaves. In a clean mason jar, place a layer of lemon balm, followed by a layer of honey. Repeat until jar is full, finishing with a layer of honey. Close the jar tightly. If you use a pourable honey, like I did, the lemon balm will rise to the top. I've been inverting the jar each day to ensure it all stays mixed together.
Lemon Balm-Infused Olive Oil
(above photo, right)
Wash, dry, and roughly chop lemon balm leaves. Place in a clean mason jar and cover completely with extra-virgin olive oil. Stir to combine, cover tightly, and let sit at room temperature for about 1 week before using. Shake jar each day.
Rosemary Olive Oil
Wash and dry rosemary sprigs (I used both leaves and stems) and place in a jar (tear the sprigs into smaller pieces, if needed, so they fit into the jar and will stay submerged in the oil). Pour in enough olive oil to completely cover the rosemary, stir, and cover tightly. After infusing for 3 to 4 days, the oil will be ready to use; longer infusion will continue to intensify the flavor. Shake the jar each day.
For a vibrant green oil that can be used right away, whirl the rosemary leaves (no stems) with olive oil and parsley leaves in a blender. Since rosemary has such an assertive flavor, you won't be able to taste the parsley but it will lend its bright color to the oil. This can be used right away as a beautiful finishing oil.