Back to the Instagram picture: that simple comment started me thinking....I've never really posted anything about using herbs because well, its so common and everyday to me that it doesn't feel like something special to tell you about. It was this weird feeling that "hey, I know something useful. Why am I hoarding that information?" Strange, right? I grow over a dozen different herbs every summer. I grow everything from Basil & Calendula to Lambs Ear and Valerian. I use them all too! I make oils and body butters, bath soaks and ointments, lip balms, teas, tinctures, creams and everything in between. Of course I cook with some too! So, today I decided to show you how I made an oil infusion using Calendula this summer.
Lets get started....
Calendula is excellent for healing the skin, which is why I chose to make this oil at the end of summer. I need it for the dry, chapped skin I get in winter! A few months back I had been given an Amazon gift card and I sorta went on a shopping spree. I bought a quart of sweet almond oil. I always buy large containers since I use it so often, but they also sell a 4oz size if you don't think you'll be needing much. You could also use extra virgin olive oil, but I usually save that for infusions I want to use as food. For instance a rosemary olive oil infusion is really great with some grated cheese and dipping bread! The sweet almond oil is more of a body oil.
I had been picking and drying my calendula flowers all summer and I had a good amount to start with. See my drying method here: How to oven dry herbs. I don't follow an exact recipe, I just put the dried herb in the jar and cover it with oil. Make sure the oil covers the dried flower petals. For herbs that have bigger leaves, I tend to crush them up a little so there's not so much airspace before I pour the oil in. Cap tightly and leave in a sunny window shaking once a day for 4 weeks. (there are faster heat methods, but I always seem to take the traditional route!)
After 4 weeks, strain the herbs out using a cheesecloth and funnel. Strain into a clean, dry jar or bottle. Cap tightly and store in a cabinet away from a heat & light and you're done! I sometimes knot the cheesecloth up and throw it in the bathtub with me the next time I get a warm bath. Remember the bath oil beads of the 80's? It works just like those only better for your skin! It's great after a sunburn when your skin is all dry and itchy, or for dry winter skin.
Now your oil is ready to be used. You can use it to make lotions, creams, scrubs, balms....pretty much anything. You can also just apply it directly to the skin to soothe irritation. I really love Calendula oil, there are so many great products I make with it. I'll have to give you my body butter recipe some time. Stay tuned for that!
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