What to Do With Herbs You Grow – Herbal Oil Infusions
Plant materials for making herbal oil infusions
The key to making herbal oil infusions is in the choice of plant materials, such as : Calendula, plantain, chickweed, chamomile, lavender and comfrey, just to name a few.Knowing this ahead of time will be helpful in determining which oils and herbs you want to use. . Uses may range from culinary to health/medicinal to beauty aids.
Oils to use: Use a refined oil to attract the essential oils of the plant. Choose one that has pale color and mild scent. Olive oil, safflower oil and sesame oil all work well. Or you can use almond oil for cosmetics, safflower or canola for general purposes, and olive oil for cooking.
Flowers to use: Choose any of the following: roses, jasmine, pinks and carnation, violets, wallflowers, lavender, honeysuckle, hyacinth, orange blossom, lily of the valley, sweet pea and heliotrope, frangipani, marigold.
Cut the flowers just before they are fully open and where possible, use the petals only. You can use a single type of flower or a mixture of 2 or more flowers.
Herbs to use: Almost any garden herb can be used to make herbal oil infusions. Cut the herbs just before the flowers open. Use the leaves and flowers, but not the woody stems.
Chop the leaves before adding into the oil. Treat the leaves of scented pelargoniums (geraniums) in the same way.
Recommended herbs are: marjoram, peppermint, thyme, lemon verbena, lemon balm and rosemary. If you want to make essential oils for cooking, you can use basil.
Spices to use: Cinnamon, coriander, cloves, cumin and nutmeg (grated) are the best for homemade oils. Use a pestle or mortar to crush them before adding them to oil.
Citrus to use: The zest of citrus fruits can be used to make homemade essential oils. Use them sparingly in mixtures. About 2-3 strips of zest per bottle.
Mixing the plants materials:
You can mix the plants to make oils that are used in potpourri and other scented craft items. While mixing the materials, use at least twice as many flowers as herbs and only small amounts of spices and peels.
The mixtures can be vary depends on your needs and personal taste. Below I will give you the example of plants mixture that works well:
Rose, pinks, honeysuckle, nutmeg
Rose, lavender, cinnamon, nutmeg, orange peel
Rose, jasmine, coriander, lemon peel
Rose, marjoram, lemon verbena, lemon peel, cinnamon
Lavender, peppermint, lemon balm, marjoram
Violets, lily of the valley, hawthorn and cinnamon
If your finished oil will be used for culinary purposes or in herbal salves, a high quality olive oil may be your best choice. Extra virgin olive oil is more stable and doesn’t go rancid as quickly as most other oils. However, if using your finished oil in beauty products, jojoba oil, sweet almond oil, or coconut oil may be wonderful choices.
Most flowers or herbs can be used for infused oil, but be sure you know a little something about the herb you choose. Some herbs can be used for their healing qualities, while others may be chosen for their pleasant aroma.
The use of dried herbs and flowers is preferred as fresh herbs contain water that can cause mold growth and spoilage of your finished oil. Grow your own or purchase organic dried herbs so you don’t end up with pesticides in your herbal oil.
Slow Cooker Method for Herbal Infusions
- Place a hand towel in the bottom of the slow cooker. This serves to keep the direct heat off jars and promote more even heat distribution, as well as cushioning jars from bumping the pot which could cause chips and breakage. Fill slow cooker about half-way with water. Turn slow cooker on “warm” setting to preheat.
- Prepare herbs by gently rubbing between your palms before adding to a glass mason jar. Fill jars 1/3 – 1/2 of the way with herbs, then cover with oil, leaving at least one inch of headspace in your jars. Stir the herb/oil mixture in each of your jars to cover herbs with oil and release any air bubbles.
- Cap jars and place into slow cooker on top of the towel. Allow oils to infuse for 8-12 hours on your slow cooker’s lowest setting. Temperature should remain between 100° – 120°. You may want to check the temperature every few hours, turning off the slow cooker for a bit if needed. Stir or gently shake jars a few times during the infusion process.
- Once herbs have been infused, turn off slow cooker and allow to cool to room temp. Strain herbs/flowers out using a tea towel or several layers of unbleached cheesecloth. Compost or discard the spent herbs.
- Transfer your infused oils to clean glass jars or bottles and cap tightly. Label your jar with 1) the type of oil used, 2) herb it was infused with, and 3) date. Protect your herbal oils from heat and light by storing in a cool, dark place. Your oils may last a year or more if stored properly. http://www.diynatural.com/easy-herbal-oil-infusion/