Another method for infusing herbs into oil. This one using fresh (non-dried) flowers.
Previously, I’ve described a method for infusing dried calendula flowers into oil and a blender method for fresh plant herbal infused oil for non-woody herbs.
Now I’ll describe a method for fresh flower infused oils. At the risk of making you think I’m terribly particular by describing half a dozen ways to infuse plants into oil, I’ll point out that I only use this method for a small handful of fresh flowering herbs. I’ve experimented over the years with various techniques and I’ve come to prefer different methods for different herbs. Exasperatingly picky of me? Perhaps. But the techniques themselves aren’t complicated.
I view it like cooking. Sure you could treat all vegetables the same, chopping them up and steaming them and most of the time you’d end up with an edible, if not always delicious, meal. But to really bring out the nuances and particular beauty of each vegetable, you learn different approaches. Baby beets are fabulous steamed; zucchini…not so much. Same thing with herbs in my opinion. I’m certainly not the ultimate expert in this. You’ll find that, like cooks, herbalists each have their own preferred techniques and ways of processing the plants. Although there is, more often than not, agreement on certain fundamentals. Try experimenting yourself and see which methods you prefer for each herb.
This is one of the most basic herbal infused oil techniques. I find it ideal for aromatic and/or delicate flowers with minimal moisture. The more moisture in the plant the higher the chance of mold. I don’t like blending flowers up though via the fresh plant blender method. I think it does something to their delicate energy and structure. Disrupts it somehow. Flowers like a delicate touch, I think, and most of them are extra special when fresh as opposed to dried.
What herbs infuse well this way
I’m describing this technique using fresh Lavender flowers. Fresh Monarda and Saint John’s Wort flowers also process beautifully this way as long as you pick them on a dry day after all dew has evaporated off of them. For rose petals or mullein flowers, follow the instructions but let them wilt slightly on a drying tray for a few hours before proceeding. You’ll definitely need to check your rose or mullein oil for excess moisture every few days. If you see condensation forming, unscrew the lid and wipe the moisture away with a clean cloth. Then recap and continue steeping. Otherwise you might find your oil ruined by mold.
I also often process mugwort flowers and leaves and flowering rosemary sprigs this way, placing a scrubbed and dried rock on the top of the plant matter to keep it immersed in the oil.
Uses for Lavender oil
This oil is great for the skin. Use it on skin irritations, burns, diaper rash or acne. Or as a lovely moisturizer after bathing. Lavender is a calming and cooling herb. It disperses stuck energy, especially in the nervous system. It’s also anti-fungal, actually, antiseptic in general, but particularly nice for fungal infections.
It’s a very safe herb for use with children and makes an amazing massage oil for babies when they’re cranky and having a hard time sleeping. Lavender is one of my favorite herbs for moving stagnant liver chi. Its aromatic nature makes it excellent at moving and dispersing yet it isn’t overly drying or draining (when used in moderation). Lavender in excess (usually overuse of the essential oil) can sometimes make thin, dry, spacey people (your classic vatas) feel ungrounded and scattered due to its dispersing nature. But the fresh flower infused oil is much more mild and can actually help this ungrounded, scattered feeling rather than contributing to it.
Lavender is one of those familiar, comforting aromas for most people, making it a welcome addition to most salves and oil blends. Combine it with rosemary and citrus infused oils for relief of tired, congested head and neck tension. Combine it with evergreen and eucalyptus infused oils for chest rubs to relieve coughing and lung congestion. Or combine it with rose and mugwort or clary sage for a deeply comforting massage oil during PMS and other emotionally trying times when you’re feeling particularly vulnerable.
And yes, you could make all these blends using the essential oils (minus the mugwort) but the plant infused oils are usually just as effective, less costly, and more ecologically sustainable. It takes many, many plants to extract even a small amount of essential oil. I use essential oils in moderation for aromatherapy and instead rely on plant infused oils when making medicinal salves. Plus they smell even better. Lavender essential oil is lovely, but lavender infused oil has a depth of smell and honeyed richness lacking in just the essential oil.
- Pick your flowers in the mid to late morning after the dew has dried but before the heat of the day evaporates off the essential oils. Pick enough to loosely fill your jar to the brim.
- Pour your oil of choice (mine is olive oil) into the jar, filling it to the top. Cap tightly.
- Place in the sun or on a sunny window sill for two weeks. Invert the jar occasionally when you think about it.
- Strain using a 12″x12″ piece of muslin lining a wire mesh strainer. Squeeze out the excess oil from the muslin. Compost the flowers.
- Pour your herbal oil into a jar. Label and store in a cool place away from heat or sunlight. It’s a good idea to check on your oil in a week or so just to make sure there’s no water. If you see condensation on the lid or a layer of water at the bottom of the oil, follow the instructions for the fresh plant infused oil to remove the moisture. Your oil will easily grow mold if the water content is too high.
- Enjoy your lovely smelling oil!