Storing produce beneath a layer of oil is probably one of the oldest and most useful preserving techniques.
Cover by Firefly Books, 2012
Preserving in Oil
Storing under a layer of oil is probably one of the oldest preserving techniques. It has the ability not only to keep garden produce fresh but also to create delicious extra - inflused oils. Each jar will therefore provide you with two delicious opportunities: first you can consume the preserved contents as antipasto or use them as an ingredient in another dish, and then the reamining infused oil can be used in salad dressings or for cooking.
Preparing your produce
If you are planning to preserve herbs or vegetables in oil, you will want the flavor to penetrate the golden liquid. Try to bruise herbs, toast nuts and crush seeds to release their flavor prior to storing. As much as possible, try to store dry produce rather than wet. Dry the herbs or vegetables with kitchen paper or in the oven before you uplace them in the container. The presence of water will reduce the keeping quality of the food.
Preparing the oil
Different oils have very different flavors and qualities. Olive oil works fine, but try experimenting with others: rapeseed and poppy-seed for light dishes, walnut and hazelnut for crunch flavor, groundnut and sesame for Oriental cooking, and avocado for something a bit different.
Warming the basic oil first often helps it to absorb the flavor of the added ingredient more evenly, but you will be surprised at how easily flavor will leak into the oil molecules even if you use it cold.
Put your prepared herbs or vegetables into seterilized jars or bottles and cover with oil. It's a good idea to use a funnel if you are filling a bottle. Ensure that you pack the container fully and, after the oil has been poured in, tap the bottom of the jar or bottle on a tea towel to dislodge any air bubbles. Seal and label.
Time is the key with oil preserving - always wait at least 3 days befor eusing your oils, and longer for more intensity. Give the bottles a little shake during the first couple of days.
Keep the oil bottles and containers in a dark place to avoid discoloration. If you want to have your gorgeous oily collection on display, make sure it isn't in direct sunlight.
Roasted peppers in oil
First, cut your peppers in to large slices. Put them on a baking tray and drizzle with oil. Roast them in the oven at 180 degrees Celisius (350 degrees Fahrenheit). Gas Mark four for 45. Once the roasted peppers have cooled enough to handle, follow the numbered steps in the slide show. For added flavor when roasting the peppers, incldue some garlic cloves and put them into the jar with some bruised oily herbs, such as rosemary, thyme or oregano.
You can use exactly the same method to preserve aubergines, courgettes and glober artichokes.
Used with permission from Preserving: Made at Home by Dick & James Strawbridge, published by Firefly Books 2012, $19.95 paperback.