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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.

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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
    Aug 6 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
    Aug 6 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
    Aug 6 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
    Aug 7 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
    Aug 11 at 5:30

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