Herbal oils are commonly used for massage, skin creams, salves, sunbathing oils, etc… They are for external use and generally keep up to 1 year in a cool dark place. Whether you choose the hot or cold infusion method mainly depends on the herb you are infusing.
Cold Infusion Cold infusions are good for herbs that lose their qualities when heated. Generally, most flowers fall into this category as do some soft roots (mostly roots containing mucous). Pack your jar tightly with herbs and cover completely with your oil. Put the lid on and leave in the sun (windowsill, greenhouse, etc…) for 2-3 weeks.Place cheesecloth over a new jar and pour your mixture into it. Then squeeze the oil through the bag (you can just pick it up and squeeze over the jar).
Pack your jar tightly with herbs again (same kind as before) and pour your now infused oil over them. Cover and leave in the sun again for 2-3 weeks. Strain again and you’re done and ready to store your cold infused oil.*Cold pressed oil is produced with very low heat. Oils manufactured with higher heats have degraded flavor, color and nutritional value. Cold pressed oils tend to be more expensive as the higher heat methods produce more oil.
Cold Infusion: Jar, enough herb (usually flower heads) to pack your jar and 4-5 cups of cold pressed oil* (depending on the size of your jar).
Hot Infusion: Jar, about 9 ounces (250 g) dry herb or 26.5 ounces (750 g) fresh herb and 2 cups (500 ml) oil (sunflower oil is commonly used, as is olive oil).
Hot Infusion Hot infusions are used for herbs that need some heat to help them release their properties into the oil. Most roots fall into this category as do some fruits (hard dry berries for example). Leaves can be infused with the hot or cold infusion method based on how delicate they are. The more delicate, the more likely you will want to use cold infusion.Place your herb and oil into the top of a double boiler or in a glass bowl that will sit over a pan of boiling water. Heat the mixture gently for about 3 hours. You will want to gently stir occasionally as well. Place cheesecloth over your wine press and pour your mixture in. (You can secure the cheesecloth with string or a rubber band). Press your mixture and strain the oil into a jar. Store in glass airtight jars.
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