This herbs de Provence infused oil is an extra special addition to your pantry. Maybe it’s the romance inherent in the French countryside, or the allure of quaint farmhouses nestled in rolling waves of lavender, or even the dreamy fields of cheery sunflowers that seem to go on forever… these are images that the mere thought of herbs de Provence seems to conjure. There’s just something about these herbs de Provence.
It’s late December as I write this and the mere thought of herbs de Provence is the bright botanical light at the end of a dark and cold tunnel of winter.
They’re quintessential herbs of summer romance that we have the absolute privilege of experiencing all year long. That’s the beauty of infusing dried herbs into oil. They can whisk you away to any ol’ time and place. It’s a sweet testament to how food and plants can carry a sense of place, an imprint of the lands from which they originated.
What are Herbs de Provence?
Herbs de Provence is a hand-blended mix of dried herbs found commonly in the Provençal region of southeastern France, as well as throughout the Mediterranean. Essentially, it’s all the botanical beauty of the Mediterranean blended together in a single spice bottle.
Traditionally, herbs de Provence wasn’t a specific blend. Rather, it was a general term used to describe the typical herbs of the season.
Those herbs are many, and common ones include:
- and lavender.
Herbs de Provence didn’t become a packaged spice blend until the 1970s. Not surprisingly, it’s said that it was an American who dubbed the now iconic spice blend and led to them being packaged commercially and made available worldwide. Many sources give Julia Child and her famous cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking the credit for popularizing this blend in the United States.
Some blends also contain fennel seed, bay leaves, clove, and even orange peel. Taking all this into consideration, it kind of seems that herbs de Provence is a veritable free for all!
Recipes vary from region to region, and even from house to house. Everyone has their own particular, custom blend. Even of all the blends common on the market today, you’d be hard-pressed to find two exactly the same.
You can kind of think of it as the French version of Italian Seasoning.
This herbs de Provence infused oil is so much better than herbs de Provence by itself. There’s something about the fats in oils that accentuate the flavor of whatever they’re infused with in such a profound way, much more so than if you added the oils and the herbs separately to your dishes. I chalk that up to the great intelligence of nature.
The Nutritive & Medicinal Benefits in Herbs de Provence
Every single one of the herbs used in herbs de Provence blends is carminative in nature, meaning it helps to ease our digestive processes, preventing unpleasantries like gas, bloating, flatulence, cramping, and indigestion. And when our digestion is at its best, we’re better able to absorb nutrients from the food we eat.
Traditionally, these herbs would have also been used as preservatives to help prevent food spoilage, as many of them are also incredibly antimicrobial as well.
How Long Does Herb Infused Oil Last?
How long your herb-infused oil will last can depend largely on how well it is stored and whether or not you use fresh or dried herbs.
- Store your herb infused oils in glass containers with tight-fitting lids. Keep them in cool, dry, and areas out of direct sunlight. Many oils are sensitive to light and keeping them in darker bottles, like glass amber bottles, can also help prolong their shelf life.
- The water and natural bacteria content of fresh herbs and spices introduces a concern about food safety and lessens the shelf-life. Using dried herbs and spices, as we do in this herbs de Provence infused oil, is much less of a concern.
- Always use your senses; if an herb infused oil smells or tastes off or changes to a bizarre color, discard it.
- Properly stored infused oils can last up to 6 months, or even longer if refrigerated.
How to Make Herb-Infused Oil
There are many ways to make herb-infused oil. It’s one of those things that once you know the basics, you can tweak to meet your needs, or your equipment or ingredient availability. I enjoy the following way the most because it’s so easy and quick.
Plan on letting your oil infuse for anywhere from 1 to 5 hours.
The basic method for making an herb-infused oil with dried herbs is as follows:
- Add dried, powdered herbs and oil to a glass jar.
- Set the jar in double boiler, crockpot, or yogurt maker and heat over a gentle, low heat for anywhere from 1-5 hours, until the oil takes on the color and aroma of the herbs and spices.
- When oil is as you please, turn heat off and allow it to cool completely to room temperature.
- Once the oil is completely cool, strain the herbs and spices from the oil.
- Once oil is strained, pour into a sterilized glass bottle. Label and store in a cool and dry place out of direct sunlight.
**Powdering your dried herbs: Some herbs you can purchase already powdered. Alternatively, you can place dried herbs in a blender or spice/coffee grinder and powder them that way. The coffee grinder is my preferred method. Having a coffee grinder solely for herbal use is a good piece of equipment to have, especially if you work with herbs and spices regularly.
Ways to Use Your Infused Oil
Traditionally, herbs de Provence was used heavily in meat, poultry, and vegetable dishes. It’s a classic addition to oven-roasted chicken, ratatouille, tapenade, and stuffed veggies. While it can be an intimidating blend of herbs, there are so many incredible recipes with herbs de Provence.
Drizzle your herbs de Provence-infused oil into soups, stews, sauces, and salad dressings for an extra special Mediterranean flair. You can brush your fish or chicken, or drizzle your potato wedges with this oil before grilling or roasting.
It’s also a lovely oil to dip a crusty sourdough bread in or drizzle over warm, salted popcorn.
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Herbs de Provence Course: Condiment, Herbal PantryDifficulty: Easy
Infused Olive Oil
This oil makes a flavorful base for a salad dressing, is amazing drizzled over salted popcorn, and for dipping a nice crusty sourdough in. It’s also great as part of a meat rub, in tomato-based sauces, and in any dish that calls for a white wine reduction. If you don’t have or can’t find all of these herbs, it’s just as delicious if you have to leave out an herb or two.
2 cups olive oil
2 tablespoons powdered thyme
1 1/2 tablespoons powdered marjoram
1 tablespoon powdered rosemary
1 1/2 teaspoons powdered basil
1 1/2 teaspoons powdered fennel seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons powdered tarragon
1/2 teaspoon powdered mint
1/2 teaspoon powdered lavender (optional)
- Add all powdered herbs and oil to a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. (Make sure the oil covers the herbs by at least 2 inches. Add more if necessary.)
- Fill a crockpot or yogurt maker ~1/2 of the way with water. Set jar into water and heat over a gentle, low heat for anywhere from 1-5 hours, until the oil takes on the color and aroma of the herbs and spices. (Make sure you put a lid on your jar so as to not accidentally contaminate with any water.)
***Alternatively, you could add oil and powdered herbs directly to a double boiler and infused the oil this way. Just be careful to not overheat the oil. Be sure to keep the heat low to maintain as many of the beneficial nutrients and phytochemicals as possible.
- When oil is as you please, turn the heat off and allow it to cool completely to room temperature.
- Once the oil is completely cool, strain the herbs and spices from the oil.
To do so, place a funnel over a glass jar and line the funnel with a fine mesh strainer and several layers of cheesecloth, a coffee filter, or an old scrap of a clean t-shirt.
Slowly pour oil through the filter. Using a coffee filter will help you get the most plant matter out of your oil, but it will also be a much slower straining process and requires some patience.
You can press and squeeze the oil through. However, know that pressing and squeezing can contribute to cloudiness.
- Once oil is strained, pour into a sterilized glass bottle. Label and store in a cool and dry place out of direct sunlight. Use within ~6 months. You can refrigerate for a longer shelf-life.
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DISCLAIMER: The information given in this article is intended for educational purposes only. Always consult with your healthcare practitioner before consuming certain herbs & medicinal foods, especially if pregnant, nursing, or taking any prescription medications.