I’m horrified! I discovered something I didn’t know about olive oil. You see, it all started with garlic. I’d never have known this if I hadn’t got interested in the stinking rose. Isn’t that some name? No one really knows why, centuries ago, garlic was named the stinking rose. Well, the stinking part might be understandable, but the rose part? You could say it’s because the bulb resembles a tight rose bud, but that’s quite a stretch of the imagination.
Anyway, back to my big discovery. You can’t make garlic oil by putting cloves of garlic into a bottle of oil. Not unless you want to risk botulism poisoning. That’s right. Botulism. Because that’s what can grow when you combine garlic cloves and olive oil. Might be cool if you’re trying to develop a sideline business of growing raw material for the Botox market, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
Oh, my gosh. I wonder how many people have tried a garlic infusion because they didn’t know that wasn’t safe to do.
Garlic bulbs grow underground. Clostridium Botulinum is a bacteria found in most soil so it’s always on root vegetables. Usually, the bacteria is killed when the root or bulb is removed from the soil and exposed to the air. Cooking also kills the bacteria which is why canned vegetables always say, “heat to a boil” on the instructions.
The toxic situation occurs when you put fresh garlic in oil and keep it at room temperature. You see bacteria are anerobic meaning they thrive in an airless environment. Oil is a perfect airless environment. The warmer bacteria are, the more they proliferate. So room temperature rather than refrigeration means a population boom for the microscopic critters.
To be safe, a garlic and oil mixture, has to be refrigerated AND it has to have some acid agent like citric or phosphoric acid added.
I don’t know if you’ve tried garlic infused olive oil, but it’s to die for. I’m so glad I learned this about garlic oil because I’m really into the cooking thing. I might have tried making my own garlic oil and really died!
I think I’ll just keep buying my garlic oil online from people who know the right way to infuse olive oil with the delightful taste of garlic. If you want to try a good infused oil, I love this garlic and thyme infused EVOO I found at cybercucina.com!
My grandfather was right. Learn something new every day because nothing beats knowledge.