Herb infused oils are very straight forward and easy to make. The oil you choose to make your infusion in will depend on what you want to do with your infused oil and personal preference. The most commonly used oils are: olive, coconut, sweet almond, avocado, grape seed, sunflower, or a blend of two or more of the oils. I used a good quality, organic olive oil, mostly due to the stability of the oil and it’s resistance to oxidation and rancidity.
Either fresh or dried herbs can be infused into the oil. Dried herbs can make a very potent medicinal oil, that has the potential to last longer due to the lack of moisture. Fresh herbs can place your oil at greater risk of spoilage due to bacterial/fungal growth from the moisture content of the fresh plant. Some form of preservative may need to be added.
Infusing oils allows the fat soluble components of the plant to be extracted and is more suitable for some herbs than others.
There are basically two main ways to infuse oils:
1. Cold infusion – where you put the herb in a clear glass jar and pour the oil in to cover the plant material. Put a lid on and shake the jar, before placing the jar in a warm or sunny spot such as a window sill – sunlight encourages the plant to release it’s goodies into the oil. Leave for 2 – 6 weeks to infuse.
2. Hot infusion – which is what I did with my comfrey leaves.
First I went out to the garden and picked a bunch of comfrey leaves off my well-grown plant. I bought them back to the kitchen and sliced them reasonably finely and placed them in a glass bowl. Then I poured in my olive oil.
I put some water to about a third of the way up the saucepan and put it on a low heat on the stove. I then put the bowl of comfrey and oil in the saucepan. The glass bowl doesn’t touch the bottom of the pan and it acts as a double boiler.
Due to the bulk of the fresh leaves the oil can’t be seen until after it has been heated, and the leaves condense.
After allowing the water in the saucepan to simmer for 2 – 3 hours, I removed the bowl from the heat and allowed it to cool. Then I poured the oil mixture into a seive lined with two layers of cheese cloth and let it drain.
After it had drained I gently squeezed it to get all the oil out and then discarded the herb mix.
Now the infused oil is ready to be poured through a funnel into a clean dark glass bottle, sealed and labeled.
For a more potent infused oil, repeat the process once or twice more into the same oil. Also, younger leaves are more potent than the old ones.
“ A standard recipe, calculated by weight is, twice as much fresh herb as dry herb, ie if 100grams of dry herb is asked for then 200grams of fresh herb is the equivalent. 300ml of oil would be used in this example as a standard guideline. “
You can add some essential oils to your infused oil mix, to add to the medicinal qualities, while also adding to the fragrance!
If a culinary herb has been infused, it would now be ready to be used in cooking.
Comfrey Oil or Balm aids in the repairing of damaged tissue, has anti-inflammatory properties, promotes the healing of bruises and sprains and is said to help relieve Psoriasis.
Have you made a Healing Oil, Balm or Cream? Do you infuse oils for cooking?