Funny thing about being intolerant of FODMAPs (or at least some of them): Garlic is a FODMAP. Garlic is a wonderful, amazing, flavor-enhancing substance. But it makes my belly so very, very, very unhappy, I have very sadly figured out.
Funny thing about garlic tho: The problematic FODMAPs (fructans, specifically, I believe) in garlic are not soluble in oil. Yay! That means that if you can flavor oil with garlic, but then remove the garlic, you can have garlic flavor in your food without the FODMAPs hassle.
Apparently, as I’ve read online on some FODMAPs-focused blogs, you can just dice up your garlic and throw it in the oil in your pan first thing when cooking, and then remove it before adding anything else. (Apparently you can do this with onions and shallots as well.) I haven’t tried this method on my own body yet, I’m a little skeptical because well, especially with onions, even if the fructans aren’t oil-soluble, there’s a lot of liquid involved and I just don’t see how some of it wouldn’t get into the dish. But perhaps it doesn’t. I’ll let you know once I experiment!
But what about for dishes that aren’t cooked at all, but usually have garlic in them? Like guacamole? Which I don’t want to go heating up my kitchen for just a subtle hint of garlic? Of course you could buy garlic-infused oil, but then do you really know what’s in your garlic-infused oil?
My solution was to decide that I wanted to make my own garlic oil, with olive oil that I trust.
But in looking up how to do this, I discovered that a major issue with making garlic oil is a very potent and extremely deadly toxin: botulism, which thrives in an oxygen-deprived environment such as under oil.
Not exactly something I want in my oil or food or anywhere near my kitchen!
I was very put off by this, and delayed and procrastinated figuring out what to do about this problem, but finally my need for the taste of garlic in my food won out and I figured out a solution to my botulism paranoia. And that was to better understand how botulism toxin is produced, and what conditions the organism needs to produce it. If I could avoid all the circumstances related to that, I could make safe garlic oil.
So here, I give you my method for making FODMAPs-friendly, botulism-free garlic oil.
1. Remove the base (where the roots and dirt are) from a head of garlic. Botulism spores are most commonly present in soil, hence why garlic is a common carrier of them. If you can get fresh, uncured garlic from your farmer’s market or own garden (did I ever tell you about that time we grew like 60 heads of garlic in our garden?), even better, because the skins will still have some garlic flavor in them as well, and the heads will be easier to slice into.
2. Slice the heads in half, so that each of the cloves is exposed.
3. Break heads apart, place in a small saucepan.
4. Cover in good-quality olive oil.
5. Place over a VERY low flame, and raise heat to just over 110 degrees farenheit. Botulism spores cannot produce their toxins above 110 degrees.
6. Gently cook until garlic is soft, or oil is sufficiently flavored to your liking. Keeping this at 110 degrees and not going higher is challenging with the oil; be careful not to burn it or raise the temperature too high! (I have to admit, in the pictures you see with this post, the oil definitely got a lot closer to 200 degrees than I would have wanted. I was using my induction burner because it was in the middle of a heat wave — so I was cooking on our sun porch — and I don’t get the same kind of control with it as I do on the gas stove — I also tend not to want to stay outside with things once they start cooking in the middle of the heat wave!) If you do get your oil too hot, you’ll end up with more of a roasted-garlic-flavored oil than a garlic-flavored oil, which nonetheless is quite tasty.
7. Once sufficiently infused, remove from heat, and strain out garlic and skins. (If you have a non-FODMAPs-sensitive member of the household or friend, the leftover garlic is mighty special stuff and should be enjoyed spread on bread or thrown in with veggies or an omelet.)
8. To store the infused oil, you want to keep it in the freezer. Even tho you kept your oil at 110 degrees to infuse it, you didn’t kill the botulism spores doing that — you just prevented them from producing toxin. (If you got your oil to 250 degrees for at least 3 minutes, then you killed them.) And botulism toxin can be produced at temperatures above 38 degrees. Maybe your fridge stays cooler than that, but I’m not taking any chances here — and I know my freezer consistently stays below that temperature. And I have a tendency to let things sit in the back of my fridge for months upon months and then pull them out, sniff, and go ahead and use them if they look ok. They always are, by the way. But I knew that that sniff test wasn’t going to work in this situation. So the first time I made this, I just put a jar of the oil in the freezer. However, that was kind of a pain when I actually wanted to use the oil, because then I had to let it warm up to get the oil out, hence raising the temperature above 38 degrees and requiring waiting time for an ingredient that I was most often adding at the very last minute to a meal. So, for the next step…
9. Pour oil into ice cube trays. Here you can see I used two different sizes, for different garlic-intensity needs.
10. Freeze oil. Once frozen, simply pop out the cubes and throw in a plastic bag or a jar and back in the freezer. (Oh, and if it happens to be 80+ degrees in your house when you’re popping out the cubes, I would advise pre-freezing the plate. As you can see in the picture at the top of this post, the cubes start to melt VERY quickly.)
11. When you need a little extra hit of garlic in your dinner, just pull a cube out and watch it melt gloriously all over your plate. (And I have to say, after going without garlic for so long, it’s amazing how much of a difference just a wee little tiny bit of garlic flavor makes.) No botulism, no FODMAPs, just pure garlic bliss.
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