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Thread: olive oil and garlic safety question

  1. #1

    olive oil and garlic safety question

    Is there a problem making an infused oil with garlic that is cooked? Or is the risk of botulism with raw garlic? Below is a CL infused oil recipe that might make a nice gift.....

    VSage, Bay, and Garlic Dipping Oil

    Bay and sage permeate this garlicky oil, infusing it with wonderful earthy, woodsy flavors.

    1/2 cup olive oil
    2 garlic cloves, crushed
    2 fresh sage leaves
    1 bay leaf

    Combine all of the ingredients in a small, heavy saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat until the thermometer registers 180. Reduce the heat to low, and cook for 20 minutes (do not allow the temperature to rise above 200). Cool to room temperature. Drain the oil mixture through a sieve into a bowl, and discard solids.

    Yield: 12 servings (serving size: 2 teaspoons)

    CALORIES 80 (100% from fat); FAT 9g (satfat 1.2g, monofat 6.6g, polyfat 0.8g); PROTEIN 0.0g; CARBOHYDRATE 0.0g; FIBER 0.0g; CHOLESTEROL 0.0mg; IRON 0.0mg; SODIUM 0.0mg; CALCIUM 0.0mg;
    Cooking Light, SEPTEMBER 2002

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Baja Manitoba
    My understanding is that there is no safe way to keep homemade flavored oils for long-term storage, unless they're refrigerated. You could certainly make it, but tell the giftee that the oil needs to be kept refrigerated.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Baja Manitoba
    I found this information on the Colorado State University's extension service website:

    Flavored Oils
    Safety Concerns

    Infused oils and oil-based mixtures of garlic, herbs or dried tomatoes can pose a health hazard if not kept refrigerated. There have been a number of cases of botulism poisoning traced to commercially and home prepared mixtures of garlic in oil that were not refrigerated. Refrigeration is necessary because all other conditions that favor growth of C. botulinum are met: low acid environment with pH higher than 4.6, anaerobic conditions (oil), food and moisture source (garlic), not boiled before eating.

    Garlic in oil
    For added safety, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) now requires that all commercial garlic in oil products contain specific levels of microbial inhibitors or acidifying agents such as phosphoric or citric acid. Although most garlic products do contain these additives, some boutique or specialty mixes may not. Always check the label to be sure.

    As for home-prepared mixtures of garlic in oil, the FDA recommends that these "be made fresh for use and not left around at room temperatures." Refrigerate left-overs for use within 10 days, freeze or discard.

    The reason for the concern is that unrefrigerated garlic in oil mixtures lacking antimicrobial agents have been shown to permit the growth of C. botulinum bacteria and its toxins, without affecting the taste or smell of the products. Toxin production has been known to occur even when a small number of C. botulinum spores were present in the garlic. When the spore-containing garlic is bottled and covered with oil, an oxygen-free environment is created that promotes the germination of spores and the growth of microorganisms at temperatures as low as 50 F.

    Botulism is a potentially fatal food poisoning characterized by blurred or double vision, speech and breathing difficulty, and progressive paralysis. Without prompt and correct treatment, one-third of those diagnosed with botulism may die. C. botulinum spores are widespread in the environment but cause no harm as long as oxygen is present. Also, the toxin produced by C. botulinum bacteria is readily destroyed by heat. Boiling a potentially suspect mixture for 10 minutes, plus one minute for each 1,000 feet above sea level, will destroy any botulism toxin that may be present.

    Vegetables and herbs in oil
    Less has been documented on the dangers of storing whole chilies, fleshy vegetables or herbs in oil, but they, too, are best made fresh, with leftovers stored in the refrigerator for use within 10 days. Vegetables have a high water activity level which further encourages the growth of C. botulinum bacteria in an anaerobic environment. Even when dried, there is still the potential for risk, unless the vegetable has been acidified to a pH of 4.6 or lower.

    Dried tomatoes in oil are less of a safety concern than other mixtures in oil because the pH of tomatoes is generally 4.6 or lower. In addition, by drying the tomatoes, conditions become even less favorable to growth of C. botulinum due to a decrease in water activity. Dried herbs in oil also are less of a safety concern because of their low water activity. However, to ensure safety, it is recommended that all tomato in oil and herb in oil products be stored at refrigerator temperatures.

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