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Freezing Olive Oil with Herbs

Aug. 15, 2012
Angela Bell

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Not only does olive oil have a shelf life, but adding aro­mat­ics like fresh herbs or gar­lic to a bot­tle of olive oil can result in an unin­tended out­come: Clostridium bot­u­linum, the microor­gan­ism that causes bot­u­lism by pro­duc­ing a dan­ger­ous toxin when pro­vided with an envi­ron­ment in which oxy­gen is absent, can cause symp­toms of a food borne ill­ness that may result in death.

It is the same toxin that we have been warned about for years that can be present in foods that are home canned and the rea­son we are warned also about the dan­gers of eat­ing foods from dented, swollen and rusty cans. One way to have both the fla­vor of the herbs and add to the longevity of the oil with­out the fear of food borne ill­ness is to freeze it.

Olive oil, unlike water that has a con­sis­tent freez­ing point of 32 degrees Fahrenheit, will freeze, but at dif­fer­ent tem­per­a­tures depend­ing on the type of olive oil. This is due to the chem­i­cal com­plex­ity of olive oil, with each com­po­nent hav­ing its own freez­ing point. 

Experimentation and expe­ri­ence has shown that at 10 degrees Fahrenheit more or less, olive oil will freeze rock solid. Since the tem­per­a­ture of a mod­ern day freezer is usu­ally set to around ‑3 degrees Fahrenheit, plac­ing it in your freezer will ensure that the oil will freeze solid. Furthermore, nei­ther freez­ing nor thaw­ing the oil does any harm to the taste or cook­ing qual­i­ties of the oil.

Freezing olive oil in ice cube trays is an easy and safe way to pro­long the life of the oil and por­tion out fresh herb fla­vored, frozen cubes as needed. Any fresh herbs, gar­lic and even cit­rus zest can be used. 

Cut or mince the aro­matic before mix­ing it into the oil. Warm the oil until the aroma from the herbs is strong then cool rapidly. Pour the liq­uid gold into an ice cube tray and place it in your freezer. When you are ready to use the olive oil, remove as many cubes as nec­es­sary and let them thaw slowly in a pan on low heat. 

Adding herbs and freez­ing gives you olive oil fla­vored safely, to use as when­ever you need it.

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