Herb-infused oils are easier to prepare with dried herbs rather than fresh herbs because there is less chance of fermentation due to water content in fresh material. We use expeller- or cold-pressed seed oils that contain no preservatives (such as almond oil or extra virgin olive oil) in this calendula oil recipe, and we make small batches that can be used up within a few months. We use this oil as is, and we also add it to salves and lip balms we make, as well as bath and massage oils.
To read the main article about the many uses of calendula, in both the kitchen and the apothecary, read Celebrate Calendula Flowers.
• 4 parts oil
• 1 part dried calendula petals
1. In a clean glass jar, pour oil over herbs, covering them completely. Place jar(s) into a yogurt maker or turkey roaster (the temperature needs to remain between 110 and 120 degrees) and leave them for 10 to 14 days, stirring every day. The oil will become infused with the aroma and color of the herb.
2. Strain finished oil through cheesecloth into a clean jar, pressing on the herb to remove the essence. If there is any extra particulate in the oil, let it sit overnight and pour off the clear oil, leaving anything that settled in the bottom behind.
3. Label the oil, and store in a cool, dark place. Use within a month or two.
Note: Any time an herb leaf, flower, stem or root is mixed with oil, the process creates a chance for bacteria, mold or fungus to grow. Therefore, it is important that all equipment be scrupulously clean and plant material is clean and dry. Adding a small amount of vitamin E oil (about 2 to 3 teaspoons vitamin E oil per cup of finished oil) will help prevent the mixture from turning rancid. We make our oils and salves in small amounts and use them fairly quickly. Otherwise, adding a preservative is recommended.
Susan Belsinger and Tina Marie Wilcox have a long-distance and longstanding herbal partnership; they have been collaborating on articles and herbal programs since they met more than a decade ago. Currently, they are promoting their new book, The Creative Herbal Home (Herbspirit, 2007) and working on the next title in their series, The Creative Herbal Garden. To order a book or find out about herbal presentations, visit www.SusanBelsinger.com.