Ensure perfect results when making an herb infused oil using one of these easy infusion methods. Tips and tricks for getting consistently awesome herb infused oils!
Do you know how to properly make an herb infused oil?
Moreover, do you know how to do it correctly so that you produce an excellent herb infused oil time and time again.
Still yet, do you know that certain infusion methods are more appropriate for certain herbs?
Sometimes it is the simplest of things that eludes us, and, as a result we get mixed, even unfortunate results.
Long time readers of this blog will know that I am an open book and love to share my embarrassing fails (did you catch this elderberry lollipop post?). Folks, I have FRIED my oil fusions. I have had them go rancid. I have had made more than my fair share of mistakes when infusing oils with herbs. If somebody had taught me a few tricks in the beginning I would have saved some serious time and money.
So, I am doing that for you. Here are few techniques for getting perfect herb infused oil every time.
Methods for Making Herb Infused Oil
Solar Herbal Infusion
This method involves placing dried or wilted herbs in a jar with your chosen oil and carting it outside everyday to enjoy the warmth of the sun or placing is a sunny window (jars placed outside are brought in every evening). The gentle heat of the sun helps to draw forth the herbal constituents to permeate the oil. This is a common method for herb/oil infusions practiced by many herbalists. Solar infused oils are usually infused in four to six weeks.
There are a few drawbacks to this method. There is a high probably of breakage due to the frequency of transport and exposure to the elements/pets/pests. Extremes in heat might also reduce the integrity of the glass jar. There is some argument to be made about degradation to both the oil and the herbs due to UV exposure. And lastly, unattended jars are candidates for contamination.
Heated Herbal Oil Infusion
In the heated method, your jar of herb infused oil is placed in a slow cooker/crockpot filled with water and set to its lowest setting. I prefer to use a slow cooker with a “warm” setting like this to avoid overheating the oil/herb infusion. It is quick and easy, and an excellent choice for most herbs, especially resinous ones like cottonwood buds and tree saps. It is far and away my favorite way of infusing herbs.
There are very few drawbacks to this method. The slow cooker does need to be monitored to ensure that it does not go dry and maintain temperature. And I suppose a big drawback would be if you didn’t have a slow cooker.
Double Boiler Herbal Oil Infusion
The double boiler method is perfect when you need to make a batch of herb infused oil in a jiffy. Instead of the days or weeks it takes with other methods, the double boiler method yields an infused oil in about an hour. This method involves placing a glass or stainless-steel vessel over a saucepan of simmering water and closely monitoring it for about an hour. NOTE: I used a designated glass bowl for years until this stainless steel double boiler from Mountain Rose Herbs came into my life – seriously guys, I am not even being paid for this link, you need this piece of equipment.
As with anything, this method has its own drawbacks. It cannot be left unattended. There is also increased chance of scorching your herbs and oils.
Cool Herbal Oil Infusion
I like to refer to this as the Eeyore method, long and slow. You place your jar of herb infused oil into a cool dark place for six weeks to two months. You can check on it occasionally, in which case it will probably respond “I’m alright, don’t mind me”. This cool infusion method is ideal for use with herbs possessing delicate aromatics such as elderflower and tulsi.
The biggest drawback here is really the time involved. This method simply takes T-I-M-E.
Lunar Herbal Oil Infusion
This variation of the cool method and flip-flop of the solar method involves placing your jar of infused oils out in the moonlight. Now, y’all – I totally respect your magical ways, but this method is a little too woo-woo for even me. And I have a goodly amount of woo-woo in me. Folks, skip the lunar method and opt for the cool method if for no other reason than that it minimizes the risk of spoilage and breakage. Unless you are chin deep in the woo-woo – then have at it.
Here are a few more tips and tricks for producing great herb infused oil.
- Use jars with a tight fight in lids.
- Use immaculately clean jars free to nicks or crack.
- Use well wilted (24 hours) or dried herbs for you oils infusion. In the case where you may want to use a fresh herb like St. John’s Wort, used the heated method with a small cloth or a coffee filter rubber banded to the lip pf the jar to allow excess moisture to escape. Moisture is the enemy of herb/oil infusions and will cause them to spoil.
- Strain your herb/oil infusion through flour sack cloth like this nestled into a fine mesh sieve. Squeeze tightly to extract all the oil from the spent herbs.
- Infused oils can benefit from the addition of an antioxidant like vitamin E to prolong the shelf-life and protect against oxidation