Making Infused Oils in a Slow Cooker
I was requested to make a tutorial for making infused oils. There’s two different ways I make them and I’ll show both. First is the slow cooker way! Sometimes I feel a bit like I’m cheating, but it’s good for when you need the oils quickly. I do however recommend that you are careful with which herbs you use. I’ve found that powdered herbs or particularly fragile herbs don’t lend themselves well to this method. Pictured below is the specific recipe I used for this demonstration.
You will need 2 cups of oil. I usually use olive oil because it’s good for the skin and it’s easy to come by and relatively inexpensive compared to other carrier oils. You could also use jojoba oil, sweet almond oil, or grapeseed oil.
This specific recipe called for 3/4 cups dried herb. You could use that amount or more depending on the potency you desire. You can use fresh plant material however the amount would need to be doubled. So if your recipe called for 3/4 cup dried you would need 1 and a half cups of fresh herb. This is because the oils and properties are more concentrated in dried material than in fresh.
This recipe also called for 3 tablespoons coconut oil. This is optional but a nice touch if you plan on using the oil in a salve or ointment.
Once all your materials are gathered place them all in a clean crock pot. I find that the smaller dip sized ones lend themselves a little better to the task. However I have read that if you have the big standard sized one you could prepare your oil in a mason jar and place it in the crock pot. Just put a dish towel on the bottom of the crock pot to protect it from the glass jar. I haven’t tried this method myself but I have read about it. I would advise keeping a close eye on it though just to avoid any possible fire hazards.
Now that everything is in the crock pot stir it up really well. I have a small wooden spoon that I like to use especially for this purpose. Set the crock pot to low and let the oils “cook” for three to four hours, stiring occasionally.
Once the time is up prepare a clean jar. Strain the oil through a cheese cloth and into the jar. Be careful as the oil and the ceramic of the crock pot will be hot! You may want to wait for the oil to cool to room temperature. I usually don’t wait because I like my oil to remain warm because I’m usually making salve and it takes less time for me to make it if my oil is still warm. But in this case when I’m straining it I wear oven mitts to keep from touching the hot ceramic. When most of the oil is strained out gather up all the plant material in the cheese cloth, kinda like a little bag, and squeeze it really well so any oil still in the plant material is pressed out. Often the most potent oils are the ones that are absorbed into your herbs.
Now that the oil is in the clean jar with the lid secured it should be ready for storage. Label the jar with the herb used and the oil infused in and the date. So for example for this I would write “Lemon Balm and Calendula infused Olive Oil- 5.4.16” If you plan on storing the oil right away and not using it any further I would suggest allowing it to cool to room temp before placing it in the storage location.
*As a side note, I always add a small amount of vitamin e oil to my finished oils to help with preservation.
Oils should always be stored in a cool-ish place out of sunlight. Properly made and maintained oils should keep for at least one year. The key is making sure there’s no water in the oils because that will make them go rancid faster (which is why there is a definite advantage to dried herbs over fresh)
How to Make Herbal Infused Oils the Old Fashioned Way
Welcome to part two to the Infused Oils tutorials. Here is where I demonstrate how to make the oils the old fashioned way which is personally my favorite. I feel like, personally the process is a bit more magical. I will be showing you with dandelions as my herb of choice.
This method is pretty simple and straightforward. Any one can do it. All you need is two clean mason jars (one to make the oil in and another to store the oil once finished), the herb of choice, olive oil (or which ever carrier oil you prefer, as discussed above), some cheese cloth for straining, and something to label your jars with.
First fill up one of the jars at least half way with dried herb, or to the top if you’re using fresh. With this method in particular I highly recommend using dried herb because extra water held within the plant material isn’t good for the oil and may cause your oil to go rancid faster or even while in the process of making it.
Then fill your jar almost to the top with your oil. At this point let it sit for a minute while the air bubbles rise to the surface. We don’t want extra air in our oil. I like to gently tap it on my work surface to help the extra bubbles come up. Once all the air is out top it off with oil, filling it almost to the rim of the jar.
Secure the lid to the jar and give it a really good shake. Label the jar with the herb, oil, and the date you make it on and your end date. Infused oils generally need to sit for four to six weeks before they are ready. However I have gotten away with allowing cayenne pepper oil to steep for only two. The rule of thumb however is that the longer the herbs steep, the more potent your oil will be. A few sources say to place them in a sunny spot for the duration of this time but others say to keep them out of the sun. I prefer to keep mine out of the sun but I’ve found that seems to be more of a matter of preference
The jar will need to be shook well at least once a day. This is a great time to also add some extra energy to your oil. If you are making it for a specific purpose you could visualize that or make up a chant to say while shaking the jar. I try to keep the habit of doing it when I wake up and just before bed. It’s also a good idea to open the jar every now and then to make sure your oil is still good. You may need to top off the jar with a little extra olive oil now and again as well as some of it will get absorbed into the plant material.
When the time is up and you feel your infusion is ready strain it through the cheese cloth and squish out all the soaked in oils just like in the slow cooker tutorial. Mark the jar and store in the same manner. And it never hurts to add a little bit of vitamin e oil to help with preservation.
Your oil should keep for at least one year.