Terroir and expertise| 23.12.2021
HOW ARE INFUSED OILS MADE?
Oil, herbs, spices: while the principle of infused oil seems simple, there’s so many ways to do it. Discover the secrets of infused oils.
h2>What is infused oil?
Put simply, an infused oil is an oil (olive, sunflower, grapeseed…) enriched with the aromatic compounds found in plants (garlic, thyme, basil, chilli pepper)… there are several techniques you can use to create an infused oil.
The most common and least expensive is the addition of flavourings. Essential oils can also be used. Other techniques of higher quality have been used for centuries to produce premium flavoured oils: pressing (which consists of grinding the plants as the olive oil is extracted), infusion and maceration.
How are infused olive oils made?
At A l’Olivier, we use a unique technique that allows us to extract all the aromatic compounds of a plant directly into the oil without degrading its quality. Similar to the enfleurage technique used in perfumery, our method of making flavoured oils (also referred to as aromatic oils) allows us to combine the best olive oils with the best plants and aromatics, creating a unique and flavourful result.
What kinds of oil maceration are there?
Mixing oils with herbs and spices isn’t enough to create a good, infused oil: it’s much more complex than that! Contrary to popular belief, infused oils made at home with fresh herbs and oil don’t actually meet food preservation requirements. The infused oils made by A l’Olivier, of course, meet food safety criteria, and our unique processes and technology capture the aromatic molecules found within the plant so you can enjoy their full flavour.
Let’s take a look at the different techniques:
It takes weeks to capture all the properties and flavours of plants when macerating them in cold oil. Cold maceration must be done with dried plants (powdered garlic rather than fresh garlic cloves for example) to reduce the risk of microbial growth. The intensity of the flavour depends on the quality of the macerated plant and the quantity used. Finally, without heat treatment, these oils cannot be preserved. The small bottles of infused oil that contain sprigs of thyme, whole bird peppers or peppercorns immersed in olive oil belong to this category of maceration.
Mild heat maceration
A kind of infusion, mild heat maceration takes place at moderate and controlled temperatures. The oil is heated in a bain-marie with the chosen aromatics. This results in a more intense extraction of flavours whilst respecting the properties of the oil.
Also referred to as infusion, hot maceration respects an oil’s maximum heating temperature, since they degrade beyond a certain temperature. This technique allows for quick extraction of the active and aromatic properties of the plants, but it does tend to distort the taste of the oil. This kind of maceration is difficult to control and the result lacks aromatic subtlety: the higher the temperature an oil is heated to, the more its taste can degrade.
A l’Olivier’s selection of infused oils
A kitchen essential, A l’Olivier’s aromatic oils allow you to enjoy the taste of freshly picked plants throughout the year, even out of season. As a garnish or in a dressing, these oils are a taste sensation!
Unlike many oils which are flavoured with artificial truffle, our oil combines two different techniques to produce a product with authentic, sophisticated flavours. It uses a natural extract from real black truffle, Tuber Melanosporum, which is further enhanced with a little natural truffle flavouring. The result is an elegant and refined truffle flavoured oil, which will taste great on fresh tagliatelle, risotto or mashed potatoes.
Discover A l’Olivier’s aromatic Espelette chilli olive oil and expand your culinary horizons! This olive oil, made with PDO Espelette chilli (50 g of chilli per litre of olive oil), not only offers the heat of the chilli but also its delicate fruity taste: ideal for seasoning scrambled eggs or barbecued vegetables. If you’re worried the chilli will make your meal too hot, measure out the olive oil with a teaspoon.
Basil was nicknamed “the King of Herbs”, not only because of its divine flavour but also because of its mesmerising scent. A seductive scent that can be found in our incredible basil oil. 85 g of field-grown basil, harvested when the leaves are at their juiciest, is infused into every litre of olive oil. This olive oil helps you hold on to the taste of summer… in salads, pizzas and marinades.
Our aromatic Madagascan vanilla olive oil is also infused with kaffir lime. Bourbon vanilla extract and macerated kaffir lime zest, a small citrus fruit with an intensely fragrant peel, create a delicious dessert oil: it tastes great on fruit salads and madeleines.
We love the delicate flavours of thyme so much that we offer two different oils based on this plant. We’ve created a delicious thyme & garlic olive oil, and we’ve also succeeding in capturing the fleeting scents of lemon thyme in olive oil, resulting in a uniquely delicate flavour. Our lemon thyme olive oil and thyme & garlic olive oil are delicious on grilled meats, ceviche, fish tartare, as well as grilled vegetables.
By combining thyme, rosemary and oregano with olive oil, we’ve captured all the quintessential flavours of Provence! The aromatic intensity guarantees the authenticity of this Provençal olive oil. Infused with the flavours of southern France, it’s perfect for marinades and drizzling over goat’s cheese.