Garlic-in-oil is a safe product when you make it at home and use it right away. It's also safe if you keep it refrigerated, and use it within a 2-3 days.
If this is as yummy as the author suggests, that should be no problem.
So basically, change "store at room temperature" to "store in the refrigerator" and we're good.
Incidentally, you know what else is a health hazard? Damn near everything you do in your home kitchen.
Got a cat? Allow it into the kitchen? Congratulations, you've just been shut down by the FDA. Use the same preparation surfaces for processing meat, dairy, and vegetables? You fail. Hell, don't have a three-compartment sink? Yeah, you're done.
Health hazards in food manufacturing aren't binary but are evaluated on a scale. The risks one must manage in a large manufacturing facility that supplies a few hundred retail locations and produces tens of thousands of retail packages per day aren't the ones you should be concerned about when making a recipe for your family.
I agree with almost everything you said. But, botulism is on another level from other foodborne illnesses in that it can much more easily kill an otherwise healthy person. Salmonella, gastroenteritis etc. will make you feel crummy for a little while, but with treatment will generally resolve without permanent consequences. Botulism (or more specifically, a high concentration of botulism toxin from the growth of botulism bacteria) can be much more serious, and you don't have to be an infant or an elderly person for it to kill you.
Obviously the author has had a fine experience with this recipe, and hasn't had any illness or death. Maybe if you thoroughly cook the garlic before it goes into the oil (as this recipe seems to call for) it eliminates the risk. But, I really don't know. And it seems wise to post the warning, in my opinon. Or, at the least, include a warning about the potential risks if the garlic isn't thoroughly cooked (if indeed that is a sufficient process to mitigate the risk).
As to whether someone is likely to use a whole mason jar full of hot sauce in 2-3 days... I love spicy food, but it takes me 6-8 months to get through a big bottle of Sriracha or Tapatio.
I am definitely not trying to be a wet blanket; just trying to present the food safety risks of garlic-in-oil. Like I said, it may be that by cooking the garlic the risk is eliminated, but people should look into that (and thus make sure to thoroughly cook the garlic) before making it.
An even better way to peel garlic IMO is to twist both ends back and forth. The hull should come off in one or two pieces every time. Super easy to peel garlic and keeps the cloves perfectly intact!
I have been making a Harissa sauce that contains fresh garlic in oil for years. It rarely lasts long enough to be an issue, but I do toss it if there are any dregs sitting around after a few days (in the fridge). But that sauce is FRESH - I don't cook the garlic or anything else. The sauce in the OP is pretty thoroughly cooked, which implies a much safer result.
"Dried red chilis" isn't exactly helpful.
There's a world of difference between dried jalapeños, dried serannos , and dried sandias. Just to name three. If you go to the exotics such as chilacas the sauce starts to taste like mole -- which is another chili sauce that's awesome on ice cream, chicken, and beef and contains chocolate.
I spend a fair bit of time comparing ripe red chilis because (OK, I admit it) I'm a bit of a nut on the subject. However, mostly it's because I grow them for making chili powder out of ripe (red) chilis, mostly serannos, smoke-dried with mesquite wood. Try it -- awesome on quite a number of things including eggs and BBQ sauce, although admittedly not on ice cream.
 As in sriracha sauce
Smoked chillies are excellent. I make a sriracha-style hot-sauce from a mixture of smoked and dried habs, nagas and scorps which I think is amazing. Haven't tried it on ice-cream though.
Cant say about this concoction but I once had chocolate ice cream that had habanero bits in it. It was wonderful. The cream took just enough heat off the peppers and the taste mix with the chocolate was way better than I expected. Also the heat from the peppers mixed with the cold of the ice cream at the same time was quite nice.
I'm not sure how strong that risk is when the garlic has been cooked in the oil to 255. That should be more than enough to kill the bacteria, and is (from what I've read) high enough to break down spores and already present toxin. So after that its about avoiding contamination and refrigeration. And acid can help avoid the issue entirely. This recipe has a large proportion of fermented soy beans in it. I'm not sure of their pH but its entirely possible the end mixture is acidic enough to ward off any botulism problems. And you could always add some vinegar to the mix to acidify it even more.
From what I've read the requirement to prevent botulism issues to to heat the mixture to at least 250 for 3 minutes. He's exceeding that here. It's a nice trick honestly. You aren't going to be able to do that at home with anything water based. But with oil its pretty simple. So if your jar is sanitized you shouldn't have a problem.
That said garlic in oil isn't one of those food safety risks like leaving meat out for short periods, or not eating raw eggs that's mostly geared at large scale producers and unlikely to cause issues for the average person. As I understand it the structure and nature of the garlic, and its low acid level are to blame. Its apparently quite likely that if you stick garlic in a low/no air environment you will get botulism toxin in short order. I've always made sure to heat any garlic and oil mixture I want to keep for more than a day hot enough to actively fry the garlic, or to add plenty of vinegar, for this reason.
What I'd do (Actually, what I will do. This is a neat recipe and I want to try it.) is use smoked garlic oil.
Put a bottle of oil in a wide pan, peel the garlic and bung in the oil and put it in the smoker for a few hours. The garlic cooks and caramelises, combining with the smoke. When done, just fish out the cooked garlic (put it to one side to spread on toast, baked spuds, and the like) and use the oil. Great garlic/smoke flavour, minimal risk of nasties.
Huh, like 143 cases a year in the US... I suppose the garlic can go in at food prep time. Orphan Black tie-in, though, for all the times I must have been spared out, having pitched from a room-temp minced garlic tub. Ayanami!
That does sound good. But I'd be careful using it here. How hot of a smoker are we talking about exactly? Because depending on how long it takes the oil and garlic to hit 140 (or whatever the "instantly pasteurized" temp would be for garlic/oil if it isn't 140) you're potentially spending a lot of time in the danger zone. During that time any botulinum present is likely producing spores and toxin. Apparently those don't break down unless held at ~250 for few minutes, and depending how you're smoking you might not get there. My low temp electric smoker wouldn't handle it well (designed for fish and Jerkey), but my Weber with a smoker set up (an ersatz hot smoker for bbq) would. So you'll likely be at the same starting point as some one using fresh garlic, or potentially worse off with toxin present in abundance and spores ready to breed more bacteria when the temp drops. So you'll still have to get the final mixture hot enough and hold it, or add acid, to get a safe result.
Otherwise it'll probably taste pretty good. I'd probably just sub the smoked oil for all or part of the regular olive oil and follow the recipe as listed (double dose of garlic!). Its not a good idea to play loose with pickling, preserving, or (especially) canning recipes. Even slight shifts in pH, sugar content, and temperature can result some pretty nasty nasties. Or carbonated salsa, and there's no real way to say which is gonna happen.
Cabinet-style gas-powered hot smoker, so lack of heat shouldn't be an issue.
Thanks for the useful tips. Just starting to get into preserving and pickling, so this is handy stuff. Might just decide to shell out on that pH meter as well.
I'm not sure how strong that risk is when the garlic has been cooked in the oil to 255. That should be more than enough to kill the bacteria, and is (from what I've read) high enough to break down spores and already present toxin.
I read that on the article as 225 which, if Fahrenheit, is barely above boiling and not nearly hot enough to deal with a spore former (particularly in only 15 minutes).
And acid can help avoid the issue entirely. This recipe has a large proportion of fermented soy beans in it. I'm not sure of their pH but its entirely possible the end mixture is acidic enough to ward off any botulism problems.
You might be right about that but it needs to be noted that not all fermentations are lactic acid fermentations. For instance, though I am unfamiliar with this ingredient (the Chinese fermented black beans --not soy) and it may very well have a low pH, the Japanese fermented soybean known as nattō does not have a particularly low pH, as far as I can tell.
You won't catch me disagreeing about the seriousness of botulism. It's one of the truly nasty ones. It's also, I confess, not one of the ones I have had a lot of experience with. Most of my food safety training has focused on salmonella, e.coli, and staph. areus.
That said, the CDC lists the ideal toxin production temperature for C. botulinum as 35C. If you're storing the sauce in the fridge and taking it out during meals, 35C is going to be a very infrequent and brief occurrence -- it's just too damned uncomfortable for most people in North America.
But the other thing is, botulism is damned rare. The CDC puts annual cases at 145. Of those only 15% -- about 22 cases per year -- are foodborne. You're about 1500 times more likely to die in a car crash on the way to the store to buy the black beans than you are to be killed by botulism.
Nevertheless, I agree that it isn't a great plan to be storing the sauce at room temperature. Even if all you're going to get from your sauce is a garden variety staph infection, you won't have much fun with it.
Right and I'm not sure what the pH on those things are (some googling gives 4.5 among other numbers?) and I have no clue what the acid threshold for knocking out botulism is. Also you're right the article is 225-250 for 15 minutes (I misread it). Which is low, but for longer. With most pathogens a lower temp for a longer time will work for pasteurization. But I don't know if this holds for botulinum spores, or if that's enough time at the low end to have the desired effect. Getting oil to the 255 mark is trivial though, you just have to worry about burning.
Iffin I were to make this I'd increase the temp, cook for the full 15 minutes, and add a stronger acid. Because acid is tasty. I'm also curious if you could safely can this after it was sufficiently cooked to prevent botulism. Even a pressure cooker can't really get hot enough to sterilize the whole situation from the start. But if cooked as above before hand, and placed in a sterile jar, that might not be an issue. You could make multiple small shelf stable jars, and worry less about about contamination during use of a large batch. You'd just have to make sure you hit a sufficiently safe recipe.