With the weather getting colder, and guests on the way, I wanted to make some delicious garlic dipping sauce for some homemade bread sticks. I'm a big fan of dipping bread in olive oil, with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. So tasty! I thought this would also be the perfect time to use some brand new stainless steel kitchenware that I purchased last weekend. While I was researching recipes, I learned something very important about the process of making garlic-infused olive oil. One might think it's as simple as dropping a few cloves of garlic into a bottle of oil. WRONG! Do it this way and you risk botulism poisoning which can be deadly!
Clostridium Botulinum is a bacterium found in most soil and since garlic, being a root vegetable, is ripped from the ground, traces of this deadly bacteria are still left clinging to it. Since Botulism is an anaerobic bacteria (meaning that it thrives in an environment lacking oxygen), it dies in the presence of oxygen. Olive oil essentially seals out oxygen and when you mix food in with the oil, you have an ideal breeding ground for these potentially deadly bacteria. It is absolutely essential that you sterilize any food you plan on mixing with oil, including garlic. It's recommended that you heat the oil to around 200F, sauté your garlic in the oil. The creator of Emerilware kitchenware and cookware, Emeril Lagasse actually recommends sautéing the garlic over medium heat for between 3 and 5 minutes. Do not...I repeat do not soak your garlic in the oil prior to cooking it. While there's something to be said for planning ahead, when it comes to safely making garlic-infused olive oil, it pays to wait till the last minute.