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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Making Infused Oils

One of the basic components in making natural homemade products that are good for you and nutrient rich is infused oils. Infused oils can be any one of your favorite carrier oils, i.e., extra virgin olive oil, jojoba oil, sweet almond oil, grapeseed oil, etc. I typically use extra virgin olive oil for it's long shelf life, but many people rely on grapeseed oil for its light texture and affordability. Mindy Green recommends olive oil and coconut oil for a longer shelf life and I agree.

So, what's an infused oil? An infused oil involves taking herbs/plant matter that you've identified as having certain desirable properties (such as soothing to skin)and infusing it in the carrier oil over a period of time so that the essence of the plant gets transferred into the oil - much like the process of making a delicious cup of tea. The plant gets drawn into the oil leaving you with a wonderful product that can be used either by directly rubbing it on the skin via massage or made into body products such as balms, salves and lotions. Most of the infused oils I make go into making lip balms, healing salves and delectable lotions!

Here's a simple process you can follow so you can make wonderful infused oils at home. You can even make delicious infused oils for cooking! Think about using your summer basil and infusing it into olive oil for a delicious drizzling oil to set your dish apart from the everyday hum drum dinner...Yum!

Making Infused Oils:
- harvest or purchase herb of choice from garden or market
- air dry herb 75% so much of the water content has left the herb
- chop or lightly grind herb and place in mason jar
- top with carrier oil (I prefer extra virgin olive oil)
for every cup of herb use 3 cups oil or cover to ensure all plant matter is in the oil.
- leave in a sunny windowsill for two weeks, shaking/rocking the jar daily.
- after two weeks, strain the spent herb matter through a cheesecloth (otherwise known as the "marc") and compost/discard
- bottle up your liquid goodness!
- add 400 iu of vitamin E to extend the shelf life and prolong it from turning rancid- store in a cool dark location clearly labeled and it's ready to use!

Here's a picture of the "marc" - basically depleated of it's plant powers and ready for composing.

As you know, I grow lots of yummy herbs in the garden and here are some of the infused oils I've made just from what I've grown:

marjoram infused oil (great for gardener's lotions and salves)
basil infused oil (delicious when drizzled over pasta and pesto)
chickweed infused oil (wonderful for salves and lotions)
wild lettuce infused oil
cleavers infused oil
evening primrose infused oil
bee balm infused oil
henbit infused oil

Although I don't grow enough Calendula to harvest all I would need to make an infusion, I do buy it organically from Mountain Rose Herbs and let me tell you.. I just love using this infusion in most if not all my products! It's a goody!


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