Making Herbal Oil Infusions

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Infusing herbs into oil has been a common practice in kitchens the world over for a very long time. Whether making a base for that favorite salad dressing, a body lotion or an herbal salve for your first aid kit, it's easy! 

The first thing to know is that herbal oil infusions are NOT the same thing as essential oils. 

Second, choose herbs and carrier oils for a specific purpose and know whether it's safe to ingest or apply topically according to that choice. 

In my kitchen the purpose for infusing herbs is most often for body care recipes like creams, salves, lip balms or massage oils. 

Method Of Infusion - Two Ways

I usually go the slow and easy way which is simply to put well dried herbs into a dry glass jar and cover by a couple inches of oil. Stir the mix a bit so there are no air pockets, put the lid on and let it sit in a sunny window for 4-6 weeks until ready. Some people believe that covering the jar with a paper bag during this time protects the herbs from UV light. I'm not so sure about that. Sometimes I cover and sometimes I don't. I generally give mine a little shake every day though. 

One really important thing never to skip... ALWAYS label your jar with the contents and a start date! 

When enough time has passed just strain out the herbs using cheesecloth, squeezing out every drop and then pour into a clean glass jar. I store mine in a cool dark cabinet until needed. 

The quick and easy method is just a variation of the slow easy way. Instead of sitting your filled jar in a sunny window you use a crockpot. Simply place a small towel in the bottom of the pot and sit your jar on top of it. Then add enough water to come half way up the jar. Cover with the lid and turn it on to the lowest setting for 2-6 hours. When it's ready just strain out the herbs, pour into a clean glass jar and store in cool dark place until needed. 

These oils can be kept for up to a year. I add vitamin E oil to my infusions at 1/4 tsp to every finished 2 cups of herbal infusion to prolong the shelf life. Some do this and some don't. I can't imagine not finding a use for these lovely oils before they go rancid but I still choose to add the vitamin E oil to mine.     

Now go forth and be fabulous with your own herbal oil infusions!