Saturday, November 17, 2007

Recipe of the Day: Infusion

An infusion, is similar to a tincture, however we utilize oil instead of alcohol. The definition for infusion is defined as: Prima materia (plant or other material) placed into an alcohol base to extract its aroma or medicinal properties. Ideally a high proof alcohol without additives. Bay Rum and Bacardi is the alcohol base in the Bay Rum Aftershave. In Botanical Natural Perfumery we use infusions in our solid perfume and oil based perfumes.

"Deep in their roots, all flowers keep the light" —Roethke

INFUSED HERBAL BASE OIL adapted from Eva-Marie Lind, Aromatiques

Base ingredients:

An excellent, 'extra' virgin, cold pressed olive oil
Fresh Botanicals (Dry out well, 6 hours is a general rule. Layering petals and leaves between unbleached paper towels works well.)
or Dried Botanicals (Only use the 'petals' of flowers. Not the inner regions such as calyx of the bloom.)
Other optional ingredients:
A 'preservative' for your product. Tincture of benzoin or Vitamin E Oil
Other supplies:
Glass jar with airtight lid or canning jar
Muslim clothe
White wine


One of the easiest and most fun methods for making an infused oil is the Solar Method. If using fresh herbal plant material always double your quantity used when incorporating dried herbs. When using fresh herbs it is best to allow the herbs to wilt for 5-8 hrs to reduce their water content.
This can be done either by tying a bundle of herbs and hanging upside down from a rafter or by laying them out on a screen which allows airflow above and under your product. Allow to wilt in a dry-air, open area.

To begin:
15 gm dried herbs or 30 gm fresh herb
1 cup oil ~ preferably virgin cold pressed olive

The quantity of your herbs can be adjusted for strength. Place herbs in a canning jar and pour oil over them, taking care that all of your plant material is covered. Cap with a tightly fitting lid. To help breakdown your plant material add 1 Tbspn of white wine. Leave your jar to sit in the sun all day and at night remove and place in a hot water cupboard. Maintain this process for 2 weeks. Remove the lidded area of your canning jar and replace with 3-4 layers of muslin, attaching this tightly with the screw on rim portion of your lid. Strain your oil. To have a stronger aromatic oil, repeat this process until you have obtained product pleasant to your nose.
In Aromatherapy we use infusions in bath salts, face and body oils, soaps, balms and salt scrubs. Some makers use a very highly concentrated Calendula infused grape seed oil for facial products. Instead of creating your own infusions you can also purchase them from reputable sources for your handcrafted beauty products. Jeanne Rose, an early pioneer of herbalism and aromatherapy has several books published with recipes.

Images above ©Roxana Villa

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