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~ Making Lemon-Infused EVOO in the Home Kitchen ~

IMG_2176Let me start by saying, I purchase my lemon-infused olive oil.  It's a small investment for a product that, in honesty, because of the process involved, can't be 100% duplicated in the home kitchen. Manufacturers of high-quality lemon-infused olive oil include lemon in with the olives when the oil gets cold pressed.  Home cooks simply do not have that option, so, if you are one of those who is inclined to make it at home, the only alternative is what's known as the "heat-and-soak" process.

IMG_2098Lemon-infused olive oil is one of my favorite pantry staples -- a bit of it in a skillet adds marvelous flavor to a sautéing chicken paillard or delicate fillet of white fish.  When mixed with some tangy white-balsamic vinegar, a pinch of sugar, a few herbes de Provence, plus, a tad of Dijon mustard, lemon-infused EVOO & white balsamic vinaigrette is born. It's hard to name a salad that doesn't benefit from a lemony vinaigrette, and because the lemon flavor is infused right in the oil, as opposed to just a fresh squirt of lemon juice, every bite gets enrobed in the lemon-luscious flavor.

Two ingredients plus a bit of patience is all it takes.

IMG_21501  cup high-quality extra-virgin olive oil, the best available and/or your favorite brand

2  large, ripe lemons, preferably organic

Scrub & dry the lemons.

IMG_2142~ Step 1.  Scrub the lemons clean.  Do not skip this step.  Use a stiff vegetable brush, some mild dish detergent and warm tap water.  When finished, pat the lemons dry in some paper towels.

Shave the lemon zest off in long strips.

IMG_2153~ Step 2.  Use a vegetable peeler or a sharp paring knife to carefully shave the yellow zest from the lemons in long, thin strips, avoiding the bitter white pith layer that lies beneath yellow zest.

Place the EVOO & zest in a shallow, 8" skillet.

IMG_2159~ Step 3.  Place the olive oil and lemon zest strips in an 8" skillet over medium heat.  Do not allow to simmer, and that includes little bubbles that form around the sides of the saucepan.

Heat to warm & carefully regulate temp for 15 minutes. 

IMG_2164 2~ Step 4.  Keep the oil on the stovetop at this warm temperature, regulating the heat up and down as necessary, for 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and cool, uncovered, to room temperature.

Cool to room temperature, strain & store.

IMG_2170~ Step 5.  Using a fine mesh strainer, strain the oil into a clean bottle, jar or other type of food storage container.  Discard the lemon zest.  Store in a cool, dark place or in the refrigerator.

Don't be inclined to store the oil w/the zest in it.

IMG_2180Note:  While it's inviting to look at a piece or two of zest floating around in a bottle or jar of oil, (and it is common practice for some manufacturers of cold-pressed infused oil to allow a strand or two to remain), in the home kitchen, the oil has a longer shelf life if it is removed.  Also, once the oil has been cooled to room temperature, it is not going to take on any more flavor from the zest.

Lemon-infused EVOO -- a light, bright versatile pantry staple:

IMG_2173Making Lemon-Infused EVOO in the Home Kitchen:  Recipe yields 1 cup.

Special Equipment List: vegetable brush; paper towels; vegetable peeler or sharp paring knife; 8" skillet; fine mesh strainer

IMG_2061 2Cook's Note:  During asparagus season, May through the end of June here in the Northeast, I am never without a bottle of lemon-infused olive oil.  Asparagus is the perfect foil for lemon, salt and pepper, and, ~ Perfectly Shallow-Poached Fresh Asparagus Spears ~ is one of favorite ways to serve this delectable vegetable.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2019)


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