Last Christmas, for gifts I made herb-infused olive oils for a few people. I’m aware of the risk of botulism spores (which are found on plants) thriving in such an environment (trace amounts of water, no air) and that homemade herb-oils can be risky. To avoid that, I used three distinct methods:
For herbs, like rosemary, I dried them in a dehydrator for longer than normal. No water means no botulism.
For things like garlic and peppers that don’t dry very well, I only used products that were pickled. Pickled garlic. High acidity means no botulism.
I steeped the oil at a temp at or near 230F for a few minutes before bottling.
I used the oil, the people I gave the oil to used the oil, nobody got sick or died.
Flash forward to right now, a year later, and I have a few unopened bottles hiding in my closet. One of them is a rosemary garlic oil, and I’m planning on doing a rosemary turkey on T-Giving, so I figure this would be perfect to coat the bird.
But I’m hesitant, still.
The oil has had almost 12 months to sit, with the rosemary and garlic cloves in there. If there was a trace amount of botulism, in a year it could have turned into a colony.
But then, if I’m only putting it on the outside of the turkey, the heat from roasting would certainly kill any critters in there, right? I probably wouldn’t dip a baguette in it and chow down, but for cooking it should be fine, right?
There are no visible indicators for botulism, so there’s no way I can eyeball it or sniff it to check for funkiness.
Normally my instinct in such situations is to err on the side of safety, but lately I’ve been making a point about not being such a puss about things that are unlikely to hurt me.
Homemade herb oil sitting unopened (cork top with heat shrunken plastic seal) in your closet for a year. Do you consume it?