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Not All Low FODMAP Garlic-Infused Oil is Created Equal

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Let’s talk about Garlic-Infused Oil! It is a hot subject for those following the low FODMAP diet. 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.

olives growing on tree. Not All Low FODMAP Garlic-Infused Oil is Created Equal

Please also be sure to read out articles, How To Add Flavor To Low FODMAP Cooking and Low FODMAP Garlic & Onion Substitutes.

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.

The “O” in FODMAP stands for oligosaccharides (sometimes referred to as “Oligos”) — a category that comprises both fructans and galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS). This is a large and diverse category, populated with items from most of the major food groups.

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 (or onion) 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. This process is referred to as “infusion” in culinary terms. You are making a garlic-infused oil.

How To Make Low FODMAP Garlic-Infused Oil

Garlic-Infused Oil vertical-min

To make garlic or onion infused oil, you can take chopped up garlic and/or onion and heat it gently in 100% oil. As long as all the garlic and/or are removed before any other ingredients enter into the recipe, you will be left with garlic and/or onion-rich, infused oil. (PS: we think we have the best oil-infused recipe out there and it has been reviewed and approved by Monash university).

Adding flavoring to oil is not an infusion, although it does yield an oil “infused” with flavor. It is the true infusion technique thank assures a low FODMAP result.

Confusing Terminology

Our recipe shows you how to properly infuse oil with flavor. The great majority of prepared products on the market that call themselves “infused”, are not infused at all; they are flavored, which is different, and some people have negative digestive reactions to the flavorings used.

The confusion stems from the fact that you can call something “infused” if it is flavored, but technically the process to make it was not one of “infusion” from a culinary or technical perspective. Adding flavoring to oil is not an infusion, although it does yield an oil “infused” with flavor. It is the true infusion technique that assures a low FODMAP result.

Read Labels

O olive oil label closeup
This label of O brand oil proudly states that it is not flavored. It is a true infused oil.

The great majority of commercially available garlic flavored oils are not infused, no matter what the front label says. They are flavored, typically with a garlic flavoring, or a garlic essential oil or similar. Some are lab tested and certified as low FODMAP; anecdotally, we know some people still have negative digestive reactions to them.

Many of these products taste great, and you might tolerate them, but just know what you are buying. We have seen people tolerate homemade, properly prepared garlic infused oil, when they do not tolerate purchased products. So do not give up until you try our recipe.

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 do not contain FODMAPs.

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.

Ghee, which is clarified butter, is almost 100% fat, but we do not suggest infusing garlic or onion in clarified butter, as there is usually still water content.

man pouring oil in dish. Oil is low FODMAP

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. It is delicious and in fact preferable for many preparations, such as Italian dishes and ones with Mediterranean flavors,

But olive oil 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.

You can also buy vegetable oil-based Garlic-Infused Oil. I like Tourangelle, in particular.

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.

dressing a salad with oil. All oil is low FODMAP

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. 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 (that’s botulism).

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, which we stand by.

You can freeze your infused oils, for extended storage. 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”. Perhaps try post Challenge Phase and when you are stable.

Read our article, Get Your Garlic Fix?, to learn more!

Check out our article on buying Commercially Prepared Garlic-Infused Oil and of course our foolproof recipe for Garlic-Infused Oil!

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