Flavored oils can be used as a base for salad dressings, marinades or sauces and, in the summer, are great sprinkled over grilled vegetables, meat or fish. They look beautiful on the kitchen counter or shelf and make lovely gifts. Moreover, they are ridiculously easy, and relatively inexpensive, to make.
Start with choosing an oil. Most recipes call for olive oil, although other light, tasteless oils, such as safflower or canola oil, are sometimes suggested because olive oil tends to go rancid more quickly. Add whichever herbs or aromatics you like, but the most successful infusions usually are simple; half a dozen competing herbs and spices muddle the flavor of the finished product. Whole, fresh leaves are used for herb oils, while either whole or ground spices are acceptable for spice oils. If you use ground spices, make sure to strain the oil through a cheesecloth before bottling it. Whole spices and herbs can be left in the oil for decoration; the flavor will continue to grow stronger.
Some recipes ask you to heat the oil with the flavoring for five minutes or less, others simply instruct you to combine the ingredients, or blend them in a food processor, and let them steep for a period before using. Infused oils should be stored in the refrigerator and most should be used within a week.