Botulism in flavoured oils, honey and vinegars?
This is a bit long winded so please bear with me.
I know about botulism and ph levels and heat processing for fresh food but I thought/have read that it also required a fairly high level of water activity to germinate and produce toxins.
I wanted to make some herb flavoured oils, honey and vinegars and was reading up on various recipes and combinations. I was surprised to find lots of contradicting information on safety.
I thought, and have done this, that using dried herbs, sundried tomatoes and garilc to infuse oil was safe because it lacked the required water activity. Honey is similiar. I have made both and stored both at room temperature for months with no ill affects.
Using fresh herbs, if they were strained out, you had eliminated the "food source" for botulism to grow.
Have I just been lucky?
Following the hot pepper oil thread, it would appear so but most of the flavourings are fresh not dried. The rosemary oil thread kind of made it sound like different oils make a difference. Do they make a difference?
A lot of recipes on-line said to wash fresh herbs in a weak chlorine bleach solution to kill any bacteria but only a couple mentioned anything about refrigerating a finished product.
The reason I'd like to clarify this is beacouse I wanted to make some up as Christmas gifts and they require some steeping time but if it isn't safe..... Not such a great gift idea, especially if it has to be refigerated and has a short shelf life.
Any help is appreciated.