Infusing herbs

In order to make some anti-itch balm for my itchy skin from poison ivy (yes, I got it again but not real bad) and insect bites, I thought I’d try using plantain, a weed herb that grows in our yard.

Plantain, also known as “white man’s footprint” is not to be confused with the banana-like fruit. It’s a low growing plant with oval leaves that sends up flowers in midsummer.

 

Plantain

Plantain

Plantain is high in beta carotene and calcium. One of the other chemicals found in plantain is allantoin which promotes wound healing, speeds up cell regeneration, and softens skin.

One of the most common uses is as a poultice for stings, bites, scrapes, and rashes.  Since hubby is putting up a bee hive, it will be good to have plantain around in case one or both of us get stung. The leaves are just crushed and put on the affected area. It’s also said to be soothing for sunburn. But I since I wanted a convenient balm I needed to make some infused oil.

It can be harvested from spring to frost, but be sure that you pick it from a yard that has NOT been sprayed with chemicals.

For the infused oil, I harvested quite a bit of the plantain leaves.

Harvested Plantain

Harvested Plantain

Now for a bath to rinse off all of the dirt.

Rinsing off the plantain

Rinsing off the plantain

There are several different ways to infuse oil. This one I found is the easiest for me.  I only use dried leaves. Some people infuse with fresh herbs, but you run the risk of mold and other icky stuff. So I prefer to use dry. So now to dry my plantain. I put it in my dehydrator and wait. You can also dry in the oven at low heat.

Plantain in the dehydrator

Plantain in the dehydrator

It took about five hours for the leaves to be completely dry. Here is my bowl of dried plantain.

Dried plantain

Dried plantain

Now to the fun part! I stuffed my canning jar full of the dry herb.

Jar stuffed with dried plantain

Jar stuffed with dried plantain

I then poured oil over the dried herb. I used Jojoba oil because it’s gentle and good for the skin. Rumor has it that Jackie O used Jojoba oil on her face every night so it must be good!

However, you can use any oil you have – even olive oil. However, olive oil has a pretty strong smell that I didn’t want in my salve.

Pouring oil on top of dried plantain

Pouring oil on top of dried plantain

I then stirred the oil with a  chopstick (you could use a spoon) to be sure the herbs were fully covered in oil.

Stirring with chopstick

Stirring with chopstick

After making sure the herbs were all covered in oil, I put on the lid and set it on the candle warmer.

Infused oil on candle warmer

Infused oil on candle warmer

I leave it for eight hours. I’ve seen a range of time for infusing with a candle burner but this seems to work for me. I was happy to see that I had picked enough plantain for another infusion.

After 8 hours I strained out the herb. I use an old knee high hose to strain and the infused oil goes into my pan to make my balm. The herb can be used in soap or put on the compost. Since we’re not into making soap right now, it’s now on the compost pile.

Straining oil

Straining oil

Tomorrow we’ll make the anti-itch balm. Yeah! Hope to see you then.

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