Why Ratios Matter When Mixing Up Flavorful Herb Oils

Cooking with herbs is an easy way to add pops of color and flavor to your go-to dishes. For an impressive finishing touch that's convenient to keep on hand, look no further than a bottle of homemade herb oil. To make one, just combine fresh herbs, a neutral oil, and some salt in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. But how do you figure out the best ratio of herbs to oil?

Exact measurements vary, but using less oil leads to a more concentrated flavor. The least amount of oil you can use while still achieving a smooth texture in your herb mixture, the better. A 1 to 1 herbs-to-oil ratio will create a very strong, concentrated oil, but we recognize that's a lot of herbs. So feel free to play around with the proportions to create your desired pungency. From there, gently simmer the mixture in a saucepan on the stove to cook off any moisture from the herbs, give the oil a thorough strain through some cheesecloth or a coffee filter, allow it to cool, and it's ready to use.

Pureeing creates a more flavorful end product than just placing some herbs in a jar of oil and allowing them to infuse over time. Plus, this pureed herb oil can be used right away, whereas the infusion method can take as long as two weeks to complete before you're able to use your oil.

Not too much for a finishing touch

While you can saute with herb oil, it makes a better finishing oil for completing plated dishes. The vibrant green hue and aroma are reason enough to make a batch, and whipping up a quick, simple herb oil is a great way to use up any surplus herbs from your garden, or to rescue store-bought herbs that might be approaching their expiration date. (Hooray for minimizing food waste!)

To help the flavor of the herbs shine, opt for a neutral oil like sunflower, safflower, or extra virgin olive oil. Also, use fresh herbs if possible to make sure you don't end up with a murky brown-hued oil. Basil, chives, parsley, coriander, rosemary, dill, oregano, thyme, or whatever softer herbs your heart desires all work great here.

Keep your herb oil in a mason jar in the fridge, or a plastic squeeze bottle for easy application. Just keep in mind that an airtight storage container will help preserve the quality of your herb oil for longer. To discourage bacterial growth, only use sterilized jars. With proper storage, your homemade herb oil can be kept for two weeks up to a month or even longer. Label your jars as you make your oils to help keep track of the date.