9 June

The good oil

The principal ingredient of flavoured oils is a pretty bottle so, if you collect enough through the year, you might like to make flavoured oils as Small Presents or for hampers.


  • They’re very easy
  • They look good


  • Unless you press your own oil, they will be neither cheap nor particularly green
  • They’re not as useful as you’d think. (You end up making salad dressings with them because they’re there rather than because you think, “Rosemary oil is exactly what this dish needs”.)

Here’s the easy recipe:

Easy flavoured oil

09 jun 2016.jpg

SERVES : 1 bottle
START : 1 week before

1 fancy bottle

enough good, light-coloured olive oil to fill the bottle

a lush sprig of rosemary (or any other herb that appeals to you)

Put the flavouring ingredients in the bottle[1] and with oil. Wait a week. Label the bottle.

Slightly harder recipes involve a lot more ingredients (garlic, herbs, peppercorns, chillies) which you put into a jar with the oil, let seethe for a few days, strain into a festive bottle and then add a final decorative herb sprig and chilli.


Christmas Day 1970: Actually, it’s not quite true that the presents were handled out one by one the Year of the Big Christmas. That’s the way we did it when there were just a few of us but that year, there were five families and twenty people which was over eighty presents and we didn’t have all day so Caroline dished them out as fast as Steve and Matthew could deliver them and so many people were unwrapping presents at once that it was hard to talk over the crackling of the paper.[2] This unwrapping frenzy wasn’t exactly civilised but it certainly was fun.

[1] Last year, my nephew Jack put a small plastic python into a bottle of canola oil, labelled it “snake oil” and gave it to me for Christmas. The snake probably conformed to Australian safety standards so it was probably non-toxic but I put the bottle in the shed and used it for oiling the blades of the lawn mower anyway.

[2] Why is paper noisy? I have tried to do origami quietly to amuse myself in dull meetings and it’s not possible so you end up distracting the other attendees as well as yourself (and some presenters cannot be persuaded that it’s good luck to have their handouts turned into paper cranes).

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