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I have a friend who makes wonderful garlic and herb-infused olive oil as gifts every year.  I've always enjoyed this gift and never gotten sick, but someone sent her a link to this article saying that there is a risk of botulism:


Does anyone have any thoughts about how serious this risk is?

I appreciate your reactions.


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My husbands cousin is a microbiologist and he said it was a bad idea. but I eat raw honey and that caries a chance of botulism so I don't understand the difference.  Interested in seeing what other folks say...

Well unfortunately we have the risk of getting sick from anything we eat.  With factory farms and their run offs the "fresh" spinach or melons in the store could get you very sick also.  I won't go into pesticides, herbicides and GMO's...I don't think I will have enough space or patience :P.  

Botulism is a risk because the garlic is grown underground and the bacteria is present in most soils (root veggies have the same risk hence one of the many reasons why we wash our fruit and veggies before we eat them).  Botulism can thrive in airless, warm environments like oil (and honey).   

One way to prevent this is to remove all the moisture from the garlic bulb or when you make it put it in the fridge and use it within a week.  I usually just crush garlic and sautee it in olive oil and then stain out the pieces and use it for whatever I was going to use it for.  :)

Hi, Myrna. We reposted your question to HOMEGROWN's Facebook page, and here's the response so far:

  • Jessie Hannah http://www.ext.colostate.edu/safefood/newsltr/v2n4s08.html
    Flavored oils can add excitement to salads, marinades and sauces but infused oil...See More
  • Jessie Hannah Add citric acid, problem solved
  • Liz Smith people still eat honey and it carries the same risk:/
  • Shovelski Melanie I think it all goes back to some cases in the 80s and folks got sick from commercially produced garlic oil... We never had any problems, personally I like to sterilize all my jars just to be safe. You have more chance of being poisoned by supermarket foods or fast foods JMHO
  • Jessie Deelo most unfortunately, i know 2 people that nearly died from botulism as a result of making their own garlic-infused olive oil. i like the food preservation site from U of GA, http://nchfp.uga.edu/, to check on best practices.
    The National Center for Home Food Preservation is your source for methods of home food preservation.
  • Liz Funk I agree with sterilizing the jars. From my fermenting experience, if the garlic is kept in an anaerobic environment then you are safe so, as long as the garlic stays submerged in the oil thus creating an anaerobic environment, you should be fine
  • Blair Eckman Clostridium botulinum is an anaerobe, so the environments you're creating, @Liz Funk is actually perfect for the bacteria.
  • Shamsiah Collett I make pickled garlic... in honey and vinegar..delicious with salad..
  • Colin Simmons I think the risk lessens a great deal when the cloves are removed from the infusion, health dept. usually specifies garlic packed in oil.

Thanks, everyone - lots to ponder!


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