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I've been experimenting with flavoring olive oil using dried herbs. So far, I've only used dried herbs in my home infusions because I have read a number of articles which claim there is a botulism risk to leaving fresh garlic or fresh herbs such as whole rosemary sprigs in olive oil.

I had an idea since I have a chamber vacuum sealer and an immersion circulator to put the olive and herbs in a vacuum sealed bag and infuse them at a pasteurizing temperature sous vide.

Has anyone heard of sous vide oil infusion techniques? Is it feasible? Are there any best practices (time / temperature) to get optimal flavor results?

Thanks in advance for any help, suggestions or references.

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2 Answers

Pasteurization will not do anything to reduce botulism risk. Botulinum spores are very hardy, requiring high temperatures (250f) to destroy them. If you use the method you describe, any spores that may exist will still be there, and a nonacidified, oxygen-free environment would be ideal for them to become active. So my recommendation would be to not take this approach.

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It's oil, not vinegar. The organic matter (herbs, garlic, whatever) that you put into the oil needs to be exceptionally clean and the infused oil should be used quickly, not stored, because stuff can grow in it. I would wash the fresh herbs or garlic very well and let them completely dry. Then, put into a pouch with the oil and vac seal.

Cook at 147F to 150F and infuse for 1 to 2 hours and then strain into a bottle for use. I would plan to use within a few days to no longer than a week or to keep the oil in the refrigerator, which then means having to let it come to room temp for pouring.

Hope this helps!

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