Have you ever wondered why garlic-infused oil is low FODMAP when garlic itself is not? If low FODMAP recipes with garlic-infused oil or butter make you nervous, you're not alone! In this article, we'll talk about the science behind infusing fats, how to find low FODMAP infused products at your local store, and, if you're feeling daring, how to make your own garlic-infused oil!
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How do FODMAPs come together and break apart?
If you've been scoping out low FODMAP recipes online, you may have bumped into a recipe or two (or 100) that use garlic-infused oil. Most bloggers who use these products throw in a disclaimer that infused oils are low FODMAP because FODMAPs are water-soluble, not fat-soluble. Great, thanks! But what the heck does that mean? And how do I know they're safe for me?
The first thing you need to know is that FODMAPs are short-chain carbohydrates bonded together through “dehydration synthesis.” All this means is that the molecules have bonded together by shedding two hydrogen molecules and one oxygen molecule, each (which is equal to two water molecules). Just so you know, bonds created using dehydration synthesis are reversible and will break if you re-expose them to water.
So when we talk about something being “water-soluble” what we're saying is that the bonds holding a carbohydrate chain together will break if you give them back their water molecules.
This is why you can't cook with high FODMAP ingredients and just remove them before you eat. By exposing high FODMAP foods like onion and garlic to water, steam, or condensation from other foods, you'll unleash FODMAPs on your meal, even if you pull out the pieces you can see.
Since fats like oil and butter don't have any water molecules, when you put high-FODMAP foods like onion and garlic in fats, their bonds stay intact. In fact, fats are “hydrophobic,” which means they actively repel water. So not only will your FODMAP chains remain intact, they'll be forcefully held inside their host food.
This means you can safely infuse high-FODMAP flavours into fats without leaving any trace FODMAPs behind! Just remember to strain the fat through several layers of cheesecloth to remove any pieces of food or sediment before you use it.
If you want to know more about the mechanics of FODMAP chains and how they're put together, check out my full article on the chemistry of FODMAPs.
How do you know if a garlic-infused oil is low FODMAP?
Are you excited to add a little umami to your low FODMAP diet? Hold your horses there, friend! Not all infused products are created equal!
To find a low-FODMAP garlic-infused oil, you'ree going to need to do a little sleuthing! First of all, a genuine garlic-infused oil is made by letting pieces of garlic sit in warm oil for an hour or two, then removing the pieces. So essentially, you're looking for an oil with “oil” listed as the only ingredient. But it's not always that simple.
When you approach an infused product at your local store, the first thing you should do is peek in the bottle and see if you can find any pieces of garlic or sediment in the bottle. If you see anything, put it down. It's not for you.
If your product passes a visual inspection, flip it over and check out the label. Check the nutrition information first (if there is any). If there aren't any carbohydrates listed, you're good to go. 0 carbohydrates mean 0 potential FODMAPs. If that information isn't available, head to the ingredient list.
Companies can be pretty creative when it comes to labelling their ingredients, so you're going to need to read between the lines for anything that sounds like it might contain garlic. This can include things like “garlic,” “garlic powder,” “garlic flavour,” “garlic extract,” “garlic essence,” “natural flavour,” “natural extract,” “spices,” etc.
If you're having trouble finding a low FODMAP garlic-infused oil, grab a Monash University certified garlic-infused oil from Fody Foods Co. This infused extra virgin olive oil has been tested in Monash University's FODMAP lab, so you can be sure it's 100% low FODMAP.
How to make your own infused oil
If you're feeling a little daring, you can also make your own infused oil or butter.
To infuse your own goods, grab 4-5 cloves of garlic and boop them with a rolling pin or the bottom of a glass to open them up. Try to keep the pieces as large as you can so they're easier to remove, later.
Add one cup of butter or olive oil to a small saucepan and warm it up over medium-low heat. Remove the pan from the burner and pop in your garlic pieces. Let the garlic sit in the fat for 1 – 2 hours, then strain it through 2-3 layers of cheesecloth into an airtight container.
The fat can be stored in the fridge for 2-3 days. No longer, though, or you'll risk botulism poisoning (um, no thank you!).
Heads up, the lovely ladies at FODMAP Everyday discovered you can also freeze infused oils! If that's your jam, I would recommend freezing your fat in 1 tbsp servings using an ice cube tray. Once they're frozen, pop your infused cubes into a heavy-duty freezer bag, and you're good to go!
With a little preparation, it's easy to add the tasty flavour of garlic and onion to your favourite dishes! To recap, since fats don't contain any water, you can safely infuse high FODMAP flavours into oil and butter without unleashing FODMAPs on your recipe. If you're using a pre-packaged product, make sure to check for high FODMAP ingredients before you buy or try your hand at making your own infused fats.
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