3 DIY Cooking Flavorings
Turning on the oven isn't appealing when it's hot outside, but that doesn't mean you have to put kitchen experiments off until fall. Food flavorings are a fun way to dabble without heating up the house. Here are 3 DIY ideas for food flavorings you can create, even in July.
Here's an idea for an overabundance of fresh herbs in the garden: infused oils. Whether you have soft herbs like cilantro and basil or woody herbs like rosemary and thyme, you have the perfect start for an edible gift.
Choose an oil mild in flavor, like grape seed oil or avocado oil. Olive oil is fine, but it already has a distinct flavor, so it may take away from the flavor you're trying to create. Use about 2 tablespoons of herbs per each cup of oil.
For all herbs, make sure to wash and dry them completely before combining them with the oil. For soft herbs, mince the herbs in a blender with the oil. Add herbs and oil to a saucepan and heat over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let it cool completely. For the soft herbs, strain the oil through a fine sieve or cheesecloth before bottling it.
The same method can be used for spices like coriander, peppercorns or dried chili peppers. Infused oils should be refrigerated, but they are best used as finishing flavors at room temperature. Oils are good for about a month.
Salt is very versatile and adapts to almost all flavors well. It's easy to add flavor to it — salt mixes well with dried herbs, spices, and even citrus fruits. For citrus fruits, grate (or zest) the peel on wax paper and let dry overnight.
Use about 1 teaspoon of flavoring for every ¼ cup of salt. Combine the flavoring and salt together and grind together in a food processor, spice grinder, or using a mortar and pestle. A coffee grinder works as well, but it's recommended not to be used for coffee after spices have been through it. Salts are good for about a year.
Extracts are extra easy to make. All you need are flavorings and vodka. There's no need to dry the herbs or zest; the vodka is simply poured over the flavorings to sit and fuse together for a month to get the full essence of the fruit or herb.
For every 4oz (¼ cup) of vodka you need:
- 3 Vanilla beans (split open) for vanilla extract
- Zest of 1 lemon, lime or orange
- ½ Cup of fresh mint leaves
Extracts are good for as long as you keep them.
DIY flavorings bottled in cute glass jars or containers are excellent as hostess gifts or party favors. If you're done entertaining for the season, start thinking about them again when you get out your outdoor Christmas decorations. They don't take much time and energy, but they make thoughtful holiday gifts for people who love food.