Updated: Jun 2
Today is that special day each spring that I wake up and realize my lawn is covered in Dandelions! I love this day.
It's funny to me because fussy lawn owners cringe when they see this flower and they call it a "weed". To me it's a beautiful flower, an herb, a food and a medicine.
Today we will make dandelion infused oil 2 ways.
This first way was actually my very first foray into the power of herbs. Dandelion infused oil was the first infusion I ever made and dandelion salve was my first salve. It's easy for beginners because it's available close to most homes. It's easy to identify. It's also easy to do.
So here we go. Picking the flower. Picking is easy. It's best to do mid morning toif afternoon. You'll notice that dandelions close over night. In the morning they shoot energy up into the flower to open for the day. I like to pick in that window. 9 to 10 am is my favorite time. Give the dandelion a light tap to get rid of small bugs and put a finger underneath and on both sides of the flower. Pull up. There you go.
Sometimes you will get some stem, just pull it off.
If you are wild foraging, make sure you choose a spot 300 feet away from the road. The spot needs to be free of pesticides and also shouldn't be where you let your pet out to pee.
It takes quite a few so pick away.
It's also a bit messy. Latex gloves are mandatory if you're making this for sale. Or if you want to keep your hands clean : )
This batch is for my family and I like dirty garden hands in the spring.
For the first infusion, we leave the flowers on a cookie sheet or tray with paper towels or cheese cloth and leave the flowers to wilt in the sun for 3 hours. Today is a great sunny and breezy day so this will go well.
Please note, you will still have a few bugs in your dandelions so do as much prep work outside as you can.
Fill a bowl with cool water (yes you can fill your sink, using a bowl helps you to stay outside until all bugs are gone) and gently dunk all of your flowers in the water. Remove from water. Spread out in a single layer on your cheesecloth or papertowel covered tray.
Leave it in the sun for three hours. After the flowers are dried and wilted, you fill a canning jar with the dandelions and cover with oil. Leave cover the jar with a lid and leave on a sunny windowsill for 21 days. After that, your oil is ready to filter and use. Any unused oil can be kept in a canning jar and should stay in a dark and cool location. I store them in our basement which is cool and dark.
We will be showing you how to make dandelion salve in a few weeks.
Method 2 for making salve is a heat based method. The flowers are harvested and wilted just like step one. Instead of placing them on a tray in the sun, these will get placed into a mason jar and double boiled for 4 to 5 hours in a carrier oil. I prefer olive oil or fractionated coconut oil. They have a long shelf life and are cost effective for large batches. They are more neutral oils, neutral scents ( I am using fractionated coconut oil for this because it has no scent and won't interfere in future skin care product scents). Fill the jars and cover the flowers with the oil of your choice.
Place the jars in a pan with and inch or two of water and turn the heat on very low. Your goal is 4 to 5 hours at 130 to 140 degrees.
It's important to not overheat during this process.
Check the temp of the jars with a infrared thermometer each hour and using a sterilized tool, gently push the top flowers and oil to the bottom to create even heating.
Here's a reminder that if you are creating this oil for commercial purposes, GMP ( Good Manufacturing Practices) should be followed each step of the way. I remind you that this batch and these photos are for my household and this blog. I am using my everyday kitchen tools and am not wearing gloves or sterilized surfaces. If you are selling this to others, you owe them the use of Good Manufacturing Practices.
In addition to using a tool to stir at each hour mark, you can also just twist the jar to mix things up.
I use mason jars frequently because I can use my sprout lids as a reusable and very handy filter or screen.
You can get these jars screens here.
You will see the dandelions wilt as they infuse their essence into the oil.
At 4 hours, remove from heat and allow the jars to return to room temp. Close the jars with a canning lid and allow the infusion to soak on a sunny windowsill for 2 weeks. During this time, I give each jar a shake in the morning and evening. This prevents mold from forming until you filter out the flowers. After 2 weeks of soaking, you strain the flowers out of the oil, seal the jar and store (and use) the oil for up to 6 months.
You can filter through coffee filters, cheesecloth and more. I just prefer this method. Be sure to label and date the jars. It's very easy to forget the contents and dates. A sharpie is an easy way to label canning lids.
You can extend the shelf life by adding 1 percent of vitamin E oil. Adding vitamin E oil means that you can no longer use this oil for food or consumption. It does increase the shelf life to 12 to 18 months. 1 percent means that if you have 32 ounces by weight of oil, you will want to add .32 ounces of vitamin E oil. Weigh your oil at the time of filtering, meaning the flowers are filtered out. Also, remember to subtract the weight of the jar. Then multiply the weight times 1%. That will tell you how much vitamin E oil that you need.
The shelf life of this product is limited because when you use dandelions, a small percentage of water gets added to the oil. Where there's water, there can be bacteria. Using clean and sterile items plus safe practices helps avoid the introduction of bacteria. Using totally dried dandelions that you either purchased or dehydrated to the point where they are paper dry would eliminate water. I don't find dandelions that are dried that much are as beneficial as our wilted flowers.