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Some recipes, particularly for salad dressings, have a step where you are expected to heat a minuscule amount (e.g. 2 Tbsps) of a vegetable oil and cook paprika in it for a brief period of time (e.g. 30 seconds).

It seems extremely impractical: trying to to get 2 Tbsps of oil out of a pan will leave half of that amount in it spread over and render only a few drops. Also maintenance.

My understanding is that heating is to accelerate dissolution of paprika. But is it required for the reaction? If I am in no rush, can I just leave the solution overnight at the room temperature?

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First of all, yes. If you think of it ahead of time, infusing oil with paprika at room temperature will work fine as long as you can do it overnight. While heat can in general be important to rupture cell walls and such to support dissolving, paprika is already pretty finely ground so it’s largely a matter of dissolution rate.

Failing that, though, you can use the microwave. This is a bit tricky, as small quantities of low-water solutions will heat — and burn — very quickly. But if you’re quick about it, you can bring paprika up to infusing temperature almost instantly. Note that the oil is not heated as fast as the paprika, despite there being more of it, so you’ll have to heat it 3-4 times. The basic recipe is, microwave it until the moment anything happens (sizzling, bubbling, w/e) and then immediately turn it off. Wait a few seconds for the heat to disperse and then turn it on again. After 3-4 rounds let it rest for 5 mins and you will have infused oil.

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If you have access to an isi whipper, you might try a rapid infusion, which would not require heat. This recipe uses whole peppers, but you could probably experiment with ground paprika. You would also be left with quite a bit of infused oil.

Alternately, to solve the problem you identify, you could just use a bit more oil and a smaller pan

I'm going to update this after locating reputable safety advice. You can try my suggestion, and use it right away, with no issue. Room temp storage is not advised, unless simmered in oil for 120 minutes! Refrigeration storage depends on the temperature of your fridge (also see table 3 in link below). If you are interested in the safety concerns with homemade vegetables and herbs in oil you should read this.

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  • I am concerned with shelf live of homemade infused oils. Dried spices are probably fine, but not sure about everything else.
    – Kentzo
    Commented Aug 6, 2022 at 16:14
  • @Kentzo I agree with the concern, but I don't know enough about how paprika is processed to be definitive. So, I would exercise caution here...refrigerate and use within a week or so.
    – moscafj
    Commented Aug 6, 2022 at 17:23
  • @Kentzo attempting to get a more definitive answer to your concern. I will circle back. However, this is out there on the web: food.com/recipe/paprika-oil-144056 . Not proof that it is a safe practice, I know...but it is out there.
    – moscafj
    Commented Aug 6, 2022 at 17:45
  • Infused oils are safe as long as only dry ingredients are used: the water activity is too low for anything scary to grow. Only mold stands a chance. (Fresh garlic + oil, of course, is famously potentially-unsafe, though my thoughts on the probabilities there are offtopic for this site.)
    – Sneftel
    Commented Aug 7, 2022 at 7:30
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    @Kentzo yes, for any kind of infused oil. In short, don't put any foreign matter into your oil before storing it - or for that matter, don't assume that two things which are shelf-stable on their own will be shelf-stable after mixing.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Aug 11, 2022 at 5:30
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My only reservation with this method is the possibility of illness if the paprika has been subjected to Salmonella contamination, something that seems to be on the increase with "Raw" herbs and spices.

If the dressing is to be served to vulnerable individuals, I would toast the paprika first of all in a dry, heavy based pan until fragrant but not burnt. This will reduce any risk considerably.

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  • I find the "until fragrant but not burnt" a very elusive :)
    – Kentzo
    Commented Aug 26, 2022 at 23:46

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