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Extracting oils from herbs Empty Extracting oils from herbs

Post by 7dawn on Wed May 20, 2009 6:08 am

Okay, inquiring minds want to know.....

I have a few herbs that I would like to be able to extract oils from. I have some Thai basil, peppermint, oregano....Also, can you extract oils from lemon and oranges? How much of the herbs and such would I need to extract a decent amount of oils?

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Extracting oils from herbs Empty Re: Extracting oils from herbs

Post by Feather on Thu May 21, 2009 7:01 am

You can't extract oils from the fruit of lemons and oranges but you can extract the oily zest from the skin. You have to peel the citrus first, then scrape away all the white pith from the skin so that only the skin and zest remains. Dry the skin and then process as follows.

Unless you use the distillation process (very persnickety and requires extra equipment not usually found in the kitchen) you need a light vegetable oil to extract oils from plants and you do it through an infusion method. I like to use safflower oil or rice bran oil - both are very clear, light, odorless oils and not very expensive.

To ensure there's no contamination or risk of bacterial growth it's important that your plant material must be clean, dust-free, and has no mold or fungus spores on it, and it must be dried first so there's no water in it. Pack your dried plant material firmly into a glass jar and fill the jar with your chosen vegetable oil. Press and stir the plant material to eliminate air bubbles and make sure the herbs are completely covered by the oil. Cover with a cloth and wrap an elastic band around the neck to hold the cloth firm, and then place a cap over top of that without screwing it down. This is to prevent moisture, dust and other contaminants from getting into the jar.

There is a fast method and a slow method for extracting the oils through oil infusion.

The fast method is to cap the jar with a lid and screw it down lightly to prevent steam from getting in there but allow expanded air out, and put the jar in hot water in a crockpot set at the lowest temperature. Make sure the water level is about 2 or 3 inches below the rim of the jar. Or you can set the jar on top of an electric heating pad set on low. Allow the contents to sit thusly for 24 - 48 hours, stirring occassionally to eliminate air bubbles that will form as the plant material becomes oil soaked and air gets forced out. The low heat will help to soften the plant material and extract the essential oils out of the plant material.

The slow method is to set the cloth covered or lightly capped jar in a dark place at room temperature and leave it there for 6 to 8 weeks. Stir every 3 or 4 days to remove air bubbles. Even slower is to put the jar in the refridgerator and leave it there for 4 months.

After the extraction is completed, strain off the oil through cheesecloth over a clean container, then empty the herbs into cheesecloth and lightly squeeze it to removed excess oil. Discard the plant material. Strain the oil one more time through several layers of cheesecloth to ensure there is no loose herb material in it, then bottle it up and put it in the refridgerator.

sunny


Last edited by Feather on Thu May 21, 2009 7:11 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : spelling)
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Extracting oils from herbs Empty Re: Extracting oils from herbs

Post by 7dawn on Thu May 21, 2009 7:18 am

Thanks for the info! I will have to copy it into word and give it a try when my herbs get a bit bigger.

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Extracting oils from herbs Empty Re: Extracting oils from herbs

Post by Sonshine on Thu May 21, 2009 10:23 am

Feather,
thank you for the information. It's good to have so many herbalists here. This is an area I'm really trying to learn about. Very Happy

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Extracting oils from herbs Empty Honey as extractant

Post by Feather on Sat May 23, 2009 6:47 am

Here is one more method for extracting oils from plants, with this method you use honey. Being antiseptic and antibacterial, honey is one of nature's medicines, and being a humectant it can be used to extract the medicinal oils of plants. Likewise with the above noted oil extraction method, the herbs used should be dried rather than fresh, otherwise water in the plants becomes extracted into the honey and turns it into a runny mess and decreases the honey's antibacterial/antiseptic properties.

This method is best done in small batches. Half fill a small jar with the dried herb or dehydrated fruit or the dried peels of fruit of your choice and then fill the jar the rest of the way with liquified honey. Stir gently to remove any bubbles and then cap it so that it's airtight. You may leave it in a dark place at room temperature, or place it in your medicine storage refridgerator (recommended) - and leave it alone for 6 weeks before opening.

After 6 weeks, open the jar, give it all a good stir, and then taste it. Depending on the type of herbs or fruit you're using, at this point it might taste strongly herbalish or fruity enough that you're ready to remove the plant material. If it does not taste strong enough for your liking then recap it tightly and put it back in storage for another 6 weeks. I don't recommend leaving the plant material in the honey for any longer than 5 or 6 months, otherwise it may begin to crystalize and that makes it more difficult to remove the plant material from the honey.

When you're ready to remove the plant material from the honey, place the jar in a pot of hot water set at low temperature to liquify the honey further, then pour the entire warmed contents out into several layers of cheesecloth set over a clean bowl. Let the remaining honey drip off the plant material until it ceases to drip - DO NOT squeeze it. Pour the strained honey back into the jar and refridgerate it for long keeping storage.

The plant/fruit material may be dehydrated or crystalized for further uses in cooking, or you may discard it. I like to keep it. I pack the remaining plant material in layers of sugar so that it becomes crystalized and can be used as lozenges, candies, cake decorations, salad toppings, ingredients for marinades or salad dressings or for flavouring beverages.

The imagination knows no bounds for the type of plant material that can be honeyed. I like to use flower petals, rose hips, dried fruits, citrus peels, all manner of herbs, even aromatic woods and barks that have medicinal properties.

Enjoy!

sunny
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Extracting oils from herbs Empty Re: Extracting oils from herbs

Post by squeezinby on Thu Jun 04, 2009 2:57 am

Wow, this is great info. I'm going to have to copy this down. Thanks

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