Thursday, March 31, 2011

How to make Herb Infused Oils

Herb infused oils are wonderful to have on hand for both medicinal and culinary uses. I've been thinking I ought to try making them for a year or so. Which is why when I saw a little article on how to do in in an herb catalog, I immediately decided to give it a go. Since I had the time, some useful herbs on hand to try it with and copious amounts of olive oil as well. (I tend to get a lot more done when I have the "seize the moment" and "Why not now" attitude)

As a result, two days and very little effort later I had myself some pleasantly aromatic St. Johns Wort oil which I fully intend to use on burns(including sunburns), scrapes and bruises as a pain-reliever and healing rub. (And when I get some beeswax, eventually, I'll make some salve with it too.)

Amazed at how easy it was, I thought I'd give a little tutorial on the subject.

You'll need: a crockpot*, a washcloth, water, a mason jar, herb(s) of your choice and food grade oil, (I used olive oil.)**

This time around, I decided to use a blend of Rosemary and Sage for a cooking oil. (These herbs are also really antiseptic and effective at fending off viruses.) I used approximately half the amount of each. I didn't measure, though.

I recommend using a mason jar with the proper seal and lid, but any old jar will probably do. Just make sure it has a well fitting and leak-proof lid.

Once you've got your herb in your jar, pour in your oil. (sorry about the blurriness of a couple of these photos)

For the culinary oils I used an herb to oil ratio of about 1 to 3. For the St. John's wort, I used 1:2 because I wanted it to be pretty potent. They both turned out excellent so use your own judgment or experiment to see what works best for you.

Screw the lid on tightly. Place the washcloth on the bottom of your crockpot, set your jar of herby oil on top of that and pour water all around it until it's almost to the top. You don't want your jar submerged, or even water to get too close to the lid because water and oil don't mix and a little water could ruin the batch.

Turn your crockpot onto low setting and then continue your life as usual. Just be sure to check back every few hours to refill the water, as it will evaporate fairly quickly. (I refilled mine 2 or 3 times a day.)

Approximately two days later turn off your crockpot and let it cool, remove your oil and open it up to smell the fragrant infused oil.

Strain and or funnel into the storage jars of your choice. (You can even strain it into a bowl or cup and then pour it back into the original jar after you've discarded the herb remnants.)
(As for discarding the herb remnants, I couldn't bring myself to, though I have no ideas of what to do with them. Ideas anyone?)

Label it up. And....
Tada! Your very own custom infused oils. I'm thinking these will be amazing gifts.

I use brown paper bags and permanent markers for my labels. I like to think that it gives them a rustic, natural and old apothecary style. I also like how it gives me a chance to use all the tiny brown paper bags that I get a ton of and don't have the heart to throw away.

*If you don't have a crockpot, or would rather not use your giant family sized crockpot for such a little thing, you can buy a small one for a fairly decent price. I bought the 1.5 quart one in the picture for about 8.50 on sale at Target. It's adorable and perfect for this very thing.

**I didn't use extra virgin olive oil, though you can use it if you'd like. I can't guarantee, however, that it will retain it's healthy extra fatty goodness or whatever it is, since you do heat the oil. Then again, it may not affect it at all.

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