Herbal oils and creams.


>I grow calendula in my garden and would like to make calendula cream or lotion, as I've heard that it is an excellent moisturizer and also wonderful to treat baby rashes. I would appreciate if someone on this list could send me a recipe.

From Patricia Harper:

The first step in making most herbal creams is to make an herbal oil. The following recipe is for dried herbs. See my note at the end of the oil recipe if you wish to use fresh calendula.

Calendula Oil

Part used: flower

2-3 oz dried herb
1 cup olive oil
(The basic here is enough oil to barely cover your quantity of herbs--fresh or dry)

Put the dried herb into a pyrex, ceramic or stainless steel double boiler (do not use reactive metals such as iron or aluminum) and cover with olive oil. Very gently, heat the oil and herbs for 1 to 2 hours, keeping temperature well below boiling, about 100--150 degrees. Stir often. Heat until herbs feel "crispy" and done (a somewhat intuitive measure, I admit--just use the clock if this is not your style). Strain the oil through a clean cloth into an appropriate container.

I prefer using oils to creams and at this point funnel the oil into a bottle with a pour spout for easy use. Always label your products with a complete list of igrendients and date.

Note on using fresh herbs: Fresh herbs contain water which can shorten the shelf life of your oil (usually 1-3 years) to a few weeks. If your fresh herb oil will not be used up quickly, the water can be removed by allowing the oil to stand for two weeks without agitation. The oil will then have seperated from the water and can be siphoned or poured off into a new, clean container for storage--preferably in a cool, dark place.

Basic Cream Recipe

2 oz solid fat - such as Crisco (really), coconut oil, cocoa butter or lanolin

5 oz oil -use your calendula oil for diaper rash, etc., try chamomile for face or body cream, plain almond, olive, or any other non-drying oil is fine

2 oz distilled water -try rose or orange flower water from a middle eastern grocery store, or plain distilled water is fine

1 tsp (approximately) beeswax -shave or grate before use

3-5 drops essential oil, if desired for fragrance or effect

Gently melt solid fat, wax and oil over double boiler or carefully in microwave; use low heat and stir until blended. Remove from heat.

Put water into blender or mixer bowl and agitate. While water is spinning, slowly pour the oil, fat, wax mixture into the water. Continue mixing until emulsified. You may notice a distinct change of sound as the cream congeals.

Remove cream, while still warm, into clean containers and leave open until completely cool. Label each jar with contents and date, be sure to note date your herbal oil was made if it is much older than your cream.

Store in a cool, dark place; should stay fresh for a year or so. Sniff before using and look for mold after 6 months. If the oil and water separate, just stir before using.

From Jonathan Treasure:

Just some additions to Patricias recipe....

  • Note that while dried calendula flos CAN be used, but most infused oils REQUIRE fresh plant. Calendula, and one or two others are exceptions.... Also maceration of leaves/stems when used is important to expose the cellular contents to the fatty solvent.....
  • Note that a much better infusion will result from a "double pass" re-use the infused oil to extract a second identical amount of the herb.
  • Note that you can use an aqueous infusion of the herb instead of flower water/distilled water etc. for an ointment. This has the added advantage of guaranteeing non fat soluble elements of importance will also be contained in your ointment.

Happy cooking

Jonathan Treasure

From Henriette:

If you use fresh herbs in infused oils you'll have to let the herb dry out to about half its fresh weight first. That way only about one infused oil batch out of twenty will go bad. If you don't let the herb dry out that much about one batch in four will rot. And believe me, you don't want that. Yech, what a mess. The herbs rot in your oil, producing something smelly and slimy that's best upended and covered up on your compost heap while your other hand holds your nose.

From Howie Brounstein:

>The first step in making most herbal creams is to make an herbal oil. The following recipe is for dried herbs.

If you add 500 IU of vitamin E per cup of oil to the oil after the heating process, your oil will last longer without going rancid.

If you don't heat the oil, but let the herb soak for a while, add the vitamin E before adding the herb.

Howie B