Not All Garlic-Infused Oil is Created Equal
Let’s talk about Garlic-Infused Oil! It is a hot subject for FODMAPers. Hopefully you know by now that you DO NOT have to give up Garlic or Onion FLAVOR and one of the best ways to get your fix is with Garlic-Infused Oils.
How Is Garlic-Infused Oil Low FODMAP?
Garlic is high FODMAP because it contains a fair amount of fructans (as do onions), which are part of the “O”, or Oligosaccharide, in the acronym “FODMAP”.
Oligosaccharides are comprised of fructans and GOS (galacto-oligosaccharides) and you can read more about them in our article What Are Oligosaccharides?
Oligosaccharides are water-soluble, which is key to our point.If you simmer a garlic clove in a chicken stock or vegetable broth, or cook it with a beef or lentil stew, the water-soluble fructans will leach into the food, making it a high FODMAP dish.
You CANNOT just fish the garlic clove out of the dish, because the fructans will have already incorporated into the dish and are irretrievable. The fructans are floating around in there on a molecular level.
Now, if you place garlic cloves in oil – ANY kind of PURE OIL – and heat it appropriately (more on that later) then the FLAVOR of the garlic will become incorporated into the oil but the fructans will not – because they are NOT fat soluble! It’s that simple.
Choose Your Fat
Notice that I said pure oil. This includes vegetable oil, canola oil, rice bran oil, sunflower oil, coconut oil and all the other pure oils. Oils are fats and are not a FODMAP issue.
Butter is considered a fat, but it is not pure fat. There is water content in butter and as such the water-soluble fructans would leach into the butter.
Garlic-Infused Olive Oil vs. Garlic-Infused Vegetable Oil
Okay, this is a huge pet peeve of mine. Most Garlic-Infused oil that I see on the supermarket shelves is olive oil based. This is fine and in fact preferable for many preparations, such as Italian dishes and ones with Mediterranean flavors,
BUT it is not the flavor I want in my Mexican, Tex-Mex, Indian or Asian cooking.
If you make our recipe for Garlic-Infused Oil you can, of course, choose your oil. I always have both an olive oil based and a vegetable oil based Garlic-Infused Oil on hand.
The less obtrusive flavor of a vegetable oil also allows the garlic flavor to be more prominent.
Choose Your Technique – If You Are Making Your Own Garlic-Infused Oil
If you spend any time with us here at FODMAP Everyday®, you know I have strong opinions! But they do not come from being in a vacuum. I have been in the food industry for over 30 years and have a very broad range of expertise. This extends to technique and to my palate.
I stand by my technique for making Garlic-Infused Oils in which I do NOT simmer the garlic in the oil. Yes, you will find recipes that take tell you to simmer or boil the garlic in oil. Yes, I have tried them. I do not like the results. I think this heavy-handed approach creates a very acrid and bitter result.
Store Your Garlic-Infused-Oil Properly
Similarly you will note in our recipe for Garlic-Infused Oil that we suggest refrigerating Garlic-Infused Oil for up to 3 days ONLY, or to freeze it. Yes, you will see other recipes giving you all sorts of other storage recommendations (or none at all).
I have even seen recipes that say to take garlic, submerge it in oil and leave it on your windowsill for a week in the sun. What all of those approaches have in common is the possibility of allowing/encouraging the proliferation of Clostridium botulinum bacterial spores, which can be deadly.
Now, I know folks who have made garlic-oil in all sorts of unapproved ways and lived to tell the tale. But all of us are dealing with gastrointestinal issues as it is. Why add fuel to the fire? We want you to be safe AND have delicious things to eat. Please follow our storage recommendations for safety and flavor.
Our instructions are based on FDA guidelines.
You CAN freeze your infused oils, for extended storage. We like to pour them into ice cube trays, freeze until solid, then pop out the cubes and store them in airtight bags or containers in the freezer for a month or even longer!
Are You Daring?
There is a classic technique where you rub a garlic clove on the inside of a wooden salad bowl. Then, when you make your green salad, the garlic flavor will permeate the salad. Is this a low FODMAP way to get garlic into your diet? Well, it might be “lower” but possibly not “low”. Read our article, Get Your Garlic Fix?, to learn more!