As a rural woman, fall is a busy time of year with harvesting. Harvesting our grain crops, our vegetable garden & wild herbs. Gathering the crops is one thing but processing and preparing it is another. I will be canning, fermenting & freezing many vegetables for the winter months. But as for my wild herbs that I have foraged, it’s a few different methods to preserve my precious plants.
I always dry my wild herbs, this is the safest way to ensure moisture content is gone to prevent any mold or bacterial growth which would spoil it. Once dried, I will store them in individually labeled dark jars until I am ready to use them. I may use them for tea, in my soaps, tinctures, or my favourite way is by oil infusion. But placing the dried herbs into a dry glass jar, filling with oil (s) it creates a beautiful transfer of herbal properties into the oil which can be used for a magnitude of applications.
My herbal oil infusions are what I make my herbal salves & balms with, have created custom massage oils with, custom serums or go directly into specialty bar soaps. I have even made luxurious body butter infused with wildcrafted rose hips infused into the oil.
There are a few methods to doing a herbal oil infusion:
- Quick method using low heat. This usually takes 6-8 hours at lowest heat possible like a slow cooker on warm.
- Traditional method using no heat (4-6 weeks). Can be a in dark, cool place. This is a best for volatile oils or sensitive herbs.
- Sunny windowsill method which can take a few weeks.
The beauty of a herbal oil infusion, is you can use multiple herbs and create wonderful pairings for different properties. Combined with different oils which contain various properties, you can create a beautiful herbal synergy. Let’s look at my Prairie Balm. I sell this herbal balm as a multipurpose balm for dry, chapped skin or minor skin irritations. It is made with a herbal infusion of:
- Comfrey (wildcrafted), Symphytum officinale, is an anti-inflammatory wound healer which speeds healing & promotes the growth of new skin cells
- Rose Hips (wildcrafted), rosa spp., is anti-inflammatory and very high in vitamin C, helps with skin rejuvenation
- Calendula (my own homegrown), calendula officinalis, promotes the healing of wounds with antiseptic, antimicrobial, antifungal & anti-inflammatory properties.
These powerful herbs are then infused into sweet almond oil, castor oil & olive oil creating a wonderful herbal healing balm. Using the herbal properties allows me to create all-natural products without anything synthetic. It is an honour and privilege to use these natural gifts from our Prairies. If you have any questions or comments then please reach out to me!