Monday, January 4, 2010
Making Herbal Infused Oils
Making herbal infused oils is an acquired skill that requires a bit of practice. But with patience and perserverence you could soon have a pantry full of amazing medicinal oils to pamper yourself and your family and help restore balance to body, mind and spirit!
Solar Method: If you have the time and live in a sunny location you can make your own herbal infused oils using the solar infused method.
Fill a glass jar 1/4 full of dried botanical, and then cover with Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or other oil of choice) leaving at least 1-2” of oil above the herbs to allow the herbs to swell. Generally, 4 ounces of herb is used for each 1-2 cups of oil, but this depends upon the herb used. Dense materials, such as roots and barks, will absorb far less than fluffy materials such as flowers and leaves. Place jar in a sunny window and shake once or twice per day. Allow the oil to infuse for at least 4-6 weeks, or until the oil takes on the color and scent of the herb. Once that the oil is ready, strain using cheesecloth, and bottle into amber bottles for storage. Make sure to squeeze as much oil as possible from the herbs and cheesecloth so that you do not waste any precious oil! The infused oil may be used alone, or used within herbal preparations such as salves, massage oils, creams, lotions, or anything else you desire! Herbal oils will keep for approximately a year if stored properly in a dark and cool place. Vitamin E Oil may also be added to prolong the shelf life.
Most of us in the Northern climes don't get enough sun this time of year to infuse oils this way. However you can still make some wonderful infused oils in your kitchen - even in th edead of winter!
Stove-top Method: Another way to infuse oils, which is sometimes necessary when herbal oils need to be created in a pinch, is the double boiler or crock-pot method. Much care needs to be taken when creating herbal oils this way because you do not want to deep-fry your herbs! Place herbs in crock-pot or double boiler, and cover with Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or other oil of choice) leaving at least an inch of oil above the herbs. Gently heat the herbs over very low heat for 1-5 hours until the oil takes on the color and scent of the herb. Some texts recommend heating the oil 48-72 hours at a controlled temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Turn off heat & allow to cool. Once that the oil is ready, strain using cheesecloth, and bottle into amber bottles for storage.