Making Shelf-Stable Herb Infused Oils Using the Alcohol Intermediary Method (with Maria Noël Groves)

Making Shelf-Stable Herb Infused Oils Using the Alcohol Intermediary Method (with Maria Noël Groves)


Welcome I’m Maria Noël Groves, clinical
herbalist, author of Body Into Balance and Grow Your Own Herbal Remedies, and
herbalist at Wintergreen Botanicals. I’m here with Mountain Rose Herbs today and
we’re gonna talk about one of the more unique ways to make an herb infused oil.
That is doing alcohol intermediary oil. This is a technique I learned from
Michael Moore and it’s one that you can do within about a 24-hour span of time
you end up making a really nice quality oil that’s also very shelf stable,
more shelf stable than other oils actually, and but you do have to do
it with dried herbs and we’re gonna use alcohol as a intermediary substance to
draw out some of the healing properties of the plant and make them more readily
available to the oil. So to start off with, we’re gonna weigh out about one
ounce of herbs so I have a scale here with a measuring cup on it. We’re gonna
do this with plantain which is one of our more soothing, healing herbs for, you
know, just kind of occasional itching and it’s one that I really love to work with.
And this technique you really do need to use dry herbs because of the way that
the process is. There are a few herbs that are better to make herbal oils with
when they’re fresh like St. John’s wort so this technique won’t work for that,
but it will work for most of your other or herbs that you might want to make
herbal oils well then you’ll be surprised by how little time the herb
and the oil are in contact with one another but yet how fantastic the
quality is of the final product. And so, I’m just going to weigh out about one
ounce. There we go. And it doesn’t have to be
perfectly exact as Michael Moore would often say this isn’t lab science it’s herbology but approximately one ounce and then we’re gonna grind that up into a
coarse powder and you can use whatever grinding equipment you have, it doesn’t
need to be perfectly powdered, so I’m using a bullet and that’s usually what I
use at home as well but you can use a regular blender, you can use a coffee
grinder, you know whatever you have on hand will work for that. So I’m gonna shove that in
here. For some of our fluffy herbs like I love to do a variation of this technique
for calendula and they’re so fluffy that sometimes if you do the whole ounce at
once it doesn’t really grind very well so for
that I might break it up and do like a half ounce and then do the other half
ounce. For this it’s actually dense enough that I think it’ll work in one
fell swoop. So, we’re gonna make a little bit of noise here as we grind this up. So sometimes I call it the party in a
blender so especially if you do this with your regular blender because later
we’re gonna actually finish the process in more of a regular standing blender
versus a bullet and so sometimes I’ll do my grinding in that just so I have fewer
things to clean but a bullet does do a little bit better job as for grinding.
When you’re doing it in that standing blender I like to call it like the party
in the blender because you’ll start to see everything just sort of fly around
and you’ll be able to see that things are pretty well ground up. So we’ve got
our ground up herb and I’m just gonna put that in a mason jar. You could put it
in another container first or prep it and then put it in anything that’s
really tightly sealed. So mason jars work quite nicely since they are so well
sealed but they are kind of an awkward size they’re a little bit more narrow
mouthed so just kind of work with that. And then we’re gonna measure out a half
ounce of the product here of our alcohol to go with that. So we’re gonna pull out
just a little measuring shot glass you can use the 1-ouncers or this one’s a
four-ounce they both work, but something that you can measure in small quantities
because we’re only going to be measuring out a half an ounce for this particular
one. If you don’t have a measuring shot glass around but you happen to have
a 1-ounce jar for salve making or you have a 1-ounce tincture bottle empty, you can
just kind of eyeball it about half way so you don’t necessarily need to have
fancy equipment but I do love these little shot glasses. So and it is
important to have everything be pretty clean it doesn’t have to be sanitized
but it is definitely nice because oils do encourage microbial growth more than
other methods. One of the benefits of this particular technique is that
because we’re using dry plant material and because everything’s getting kind of
coated in alcohol first, it is one of the more shelf-stable ones one of the ones
that’s least likely to grow yeasts, and molds, and bacteria, because we basically
sanitized things with the alcohol and we don’t have that water present. So, I’m
just going to pour that in here. You could use a fork to kind of work this in
but often times I will just put the lid on and shake it and that will work
pretty well to just disperse that little bit of alcohol throughout the herb
material. Let me just put this over here get it out of the way. And so that
immediately kind of comes out the consistency of like nice soil or beach
sand that’s a little bit damp, it’s not soaking in alcohol or anything like
that it’s just sort of lightly coated. You will notice that it forms kind of a
ball but it’s really easy to move around and that’s about the consistency that
we’re looking for here. And now, this is just gonna be set aside. I like to give
it at least 24 hours to really let the alcohol do its job. Alcohol is such a
better solvent for extracting most of our properties of plants,
and so it does a really good job here than the oil does and it’ll just kind of
pull things out to bring them to the surface, and then later when we go to
blend this with the oil it’ll readily give those properties right over to the
oil and it just comes out really nicely. So we’ll give it about 24 hours and then
we’ll come back and finish up this process. So we’re back our herb has been
sitting and macerating the alcohol for a little while so it’s ready for us to
make our finished oil. So to start off with that we’re just gonna take that
herb material that we’ve prepped and put it right in our standing blender, and you
could if you were doing this you know within a 24 hour span of time at your
house you could just grind it with the alcohol, leave it in here with a lid on
it, and then just come back to finish it so you don’t even necessarily need to
have put it into a separate container but I like to make sure it’s pretty
airtight and the mason jars are good for that. So we’ll just kind of get all that
in there. And then we’re gonna cover it so we started off with one ounce of herb,
1/2 ounce of alcohol, and we’re gonna add about 8 ounces of oil, and those are
approximately the portions but you can easily add or subtract like for example
calendula I often will start out with this method but it’s a lot fluffier than
this plantain is, and so I might end up adding like a couple extra ounces of oil
just to make sure that it’s covered well, and then also so that it moves around
well in the blender so you can clearly play around with these proportions a
little bit if you want to or need to. So we’re gonna use our olive oil or whatever oil
you’re choosing to use, and I’m gonna do about 8 ounces of that which is about
half of this bottle. You could even measure by weight instead of volume if
you really wanted to use your scale for this, it’s not exactly the same
measurement but it’s close enough that it will still come out. We’ve got about
half the bottle there. And then you’re gonna turn on your blender and you’re
gonna blend for about five minutes or so, you’re gonna blend until things start to
get really warm this is a really good way to kill your blenders over time, but
it works well for our remedy so it makes a lot of noise
so you can do this if, if you’re very sensitive to hear you can even wear
the ear, you know, ear protection as you’re doing it, but we’re just gonna let
it blend for a while and then we’ll come back and straighten it out after a few
minutes when it gets warm. Alright, so it’s just a little bit warm to
the touch, and now we can just strain this out. And, to strain it out I like to
use kind of what I like, you can use a Pyrex like this so you can measure it’s
nice to be able to see, but really any big bowl will work. And then a nice good
sized strainer that fits on top of that, and then I will cover that with some
cheesecloth. You could also use muslin cloth something that’s got a tight weave
will actually work even better, but, the oil will never wash out so anything that
you might want to reuse doesn’t work for this this is something that you really
kind of need to throw out when you’re all done. And we’re just going to kind of
pour that through here, and then I’m gonna use my hands to really squeeze it
out and you can do this with your bare hands for sure, but I’m gonna use gloves
because it just makes the whole process a little bit less messy because working
with oil and doing this you’ll get it all over your hands. And so I’m gonna put
on some nice gloves, and then squeeze it out I’ve done this pressing out turmeric
by hand and not just my hands but also my wedding bands were stained yellowy-orange for a while, which my husband was not too happy about so started wearing
gloves. Look how beautiful that color is. The alcohol really extracts a lot more
properties from the herb and sort of it puts that into the oil then if you only
used oil. And when I’m doing calendula I start with a pretty similar technique
but instead of straining it out right away I’ll pour all that slop right into
a jar and then I’ll do the heat method for a couple hours to a couple days and
then I’ll strain it out and that just seems to get just a little more out of
the calendula which benefits from a little bit of heat but also extracts
with that alcohol intermediary process as well. But almost all other herbs
besides calendula and St. John’s wort I do via just this plain method. So we’ve got our finished oil here and
this is pretty much ready to go but there is quite a bit of sediment because
we ground up our herb quite a bit and the cheesecloth is really pretty porous,
and so some of that sediment will get through so a lot of times what I’ll do
is after I’ve strained it out for the first time then I’ll put it through a
coffee filter and that’ll help catch a lot of the sediment. It’s a really slow
process though, it just drips very, very slowly but I’ll just put it in here I’ll
grab another container and just pour right into that and then I may have to
carefully move and put a new filter in when it starts to gum up so much that
nothing is dripping through. And that’s just gonna make a less gritty product
for your final oil and also later on as you’re trying to assess like “has my
oil gone bad?”, at least you’ll know that you don’t have a bunch of stuff floating
around from the sediment so if you see a lot of weird stuff floating around in
your final oil a year or so later, you’ll know like, oh, that’s probably mold or
something else and so you’ll know that it’s time to toss that and make a new
batch. But this is our herbal oil really lovely you can use this as is straight
on the skin. Sometimes I’ll combine it with herbal liniments and I’ll shake
them up really well and then apply them to the skin that way. And then, you can
certainly go ahead and make a salve or make a cream and use your or boil as
part of your ingredients for that. But this is your basic oil it’ll keep
especially this one should keep for at least a year sometimes longer as long as
it’s in a cool, dark, dry, spot, and great to work with for all sorts of different
skin healing recipes. So I hope you have a great time with us and happy herbal
adventures!

35 Replies to “Making Shelf-Stable Herb Infused Oils Using the Alcohol Intermediary Method (with Maria Noël Groves)”

  1. Excellent presentation! Thank you for your knowledge and insight. I will be incorporating this method into my practice.

  2. Shelf life about a year? Question two I have never used alcohol for extract before. Besides besides herb mentioned. What other dried herbs should not be done. Thank you for you video !

  3. Thank you so much for this video. Would this method work for a tincture made with glycerine? I don't like them made with alcohol.

  4. What is the name of this herb used in this video. I could not understand what she said.
    Also anyone recognizes the blender on this video

  5. I would love to see a video series where you make useful salves etc. That everyone should have in their home medicine shelf.

  6. I would like to use an infused oil like this in my hair. But a little concerned about the drying effects of the alcohol. Or because it’s such a small amount, it wouldn’t make a difference? 🤔

    Could tea tree oil be used to sub the alcohol to extract the properties of the herb, or alcohol is the only way?

  7. Do you have to grind up the herb because of the alcohol? It seems a lot messier than infusing alone in a jar for a few weeks. Any other options for increasing shelf life? Adding Vit E or something else to the infusion?

  8. Excellent presentation Maria. I look forward to learning more. I'm popping over to your blog now. Thank you so much!

  9. Thank you for making this great video! Is sweet almond oil appropriate to use or maybe half avocado oil and half sweet almond oil?

  10. Hello dear…thank you for the video. Can the herb infused oil work in Candle-making. Your assistance is highly appreciated I have been doing the ugly cry

  11. You mention at the end of the video that with Calendula and St. John's Wort, you will also add the low heat method in combination to the alcohol intermediary method. Are you referring to dried St. John's Wort or fresh St. John's Wort as you also mention that the alcohol intermediary method should not be used on fresh and I was understanding that this herb is mostly used fresh for oil infusions? TIA for clarifying.

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