stuff plus oil equals awesome

Let’s preface this with a little life lesson for y’all: Basil takes a lot longer to dehydrate than you’d imagine.

When I was a lass I used to loooooooooooove hot pepper oil. It was called giardiniera, and we got it from this Italian beef wholesaler in an industrial park. You could get it at grocery stores, but I always remember getting ours when we went to stock up on the rest of the Italian beef supplies. The strangest thing, getting these frozen buckets of heat-n-eat thinly sliced beef. (Of course, even as a little kid I hated the beef, but I did like “gravy bread,” just the roll dipped in the spicy juice—still gross, right?) And that peppery oil—I’d pour it on to an obscene degree. It made my mouth tingle.

I no longer live in Chicago so I no longer have easy access to it, and I miss my tingly oil. So we finally decided to make our own substitute. Not owning a canning pressure-cooker thing (yet!) and not wanting to add vinegar, we just used dried dundicuts, a Pakistani pepper that not only has mad heat but also flavor to go with it. We simply threw a bunch of crushed dundicuts in olive oil and let it sit for a month. Tingly goodness with zero effort.

So let’s make more oils! Practically anything can stand some fancyin’ up with the help of flavored oils. And since really good plain olive oil is still cheaper than mediocre flavored olive oils, with the help of my food dehydrator, we’re making basil, rosemary, dundicut, and lemon-pepper oils. Remember, if you try to do this yourself, you have to get all the moisture out of whatever you’re adding to the oil or it’ll rot up but good. Don’t go throwing cloves of garlic in yours because you saw it at the store—that garlic’s been properly preserved.

I used the lowest setting on my dehydrator, and surprisingly, the basil took the longest! Rosemary, lemon peel, no sweat, but that basil… Considering the oil is going to need to sit for a month or so before I’m ready to taste them, I guess the extra hours the basil took were still nothing. It was still frustrating—an exercise in patience, I suppose—because you can’t cut corners or your oil will be ruined.

And who knows, it might not work out. But it might be awesome. Maybe the last day of VeganMoFo will have the big taste test. Yeah, another post idea down!

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