Rosemary is one of my favorite herbs, and it has a lore stretching back to the ancients, so maybe it is fitting, that more than any other this is the herb of ‘remembrance’.
It is such an attractive plant, with long, slender limbs of the darkest green, and delicate, pale blue flowers that the bees absolutely adore. If anyone has a large rosemary bush in their garden, you will know well the smell on a hot summers day, as it releases its essential oils into the air – it is truly magical. It is what I imagine ancient Rome smelled like, I am not sure why!
Rosemary has always been used when events needed special remembering and so it is associated with birth, weddings and deaths. Guests at weddings could be greeted with a branch of rosemary and the famous herbalist Grieve talked of it being weaved into bridal bouquets. As a funerary herb it is used as an incense, to honor and remember the dead.
I primarily use it as a cleansing’ herb, or when I need to focus on something. I find if I burn rosemary essential oil, it helps me focus, and can bring a sense of strength after illness. I will be using this infused oil to turn into a massage bar for aches and pains, or when I am generally feeling sluggish.
My favorite piece of Rosemary herb-lore however comes from Sally Owens in Practical Magic…“There are some things I know for certain: always throw spilled salt over your left shoulder; keep rosemary by your garden gate; plant lavender for luck; and fall in love whenever you can.”
Infusion; You can use this method for infusing herbs and plants into oil for almost everything. I prefer the ‘sunny windowsill’ method. So, this is what I am sharing here.
Firstly, you will need;
- A carrier oil. I am using Sweet Almond Oil as it absorbs quickly, is a pale oil and has very little fragrance, allowing the herb to shine through, it is also not too expensive.
- You can also use fractionated Coconut Oil, Olive Oil or Jojoba. Be mindful of nut allergies.
- A Jar for the herbs and oil.
- A bottle to store your infused oil.
- Enough herbs to fill the jar without cramming
What to do? Pick your herbs on a sunny day, when they are warm, mid-morning is thought to be the best, as they should contain the maximum amount of vital oils at this time. I lay mine out to dry for around 24 hours, this will just take some of the moisture out of them. Any water in your oil may lead to the oil going bad and increase the chance of bacteria.
Gently pack your leaves into the jar and when nearly full, but not packed too tightly, add your oil, all the way to the top. Use a small spoon or fork to gently push the herbs down releasing any air bubble. You should then sit your little jar on a sunny windowsill for 4-6 weeks until it is infused. I don’t shake my oils, but some people do, and some people prefer a cool, dark place to infuse, experiment and do what works for you.
After 4-6 weeks, take the lid off, if it smells intense the oil is probably ready to go. If you have any residue on the top, just lift it off – the oil underneath should be fine. Gently pour the liquid out through a sieve and into another jar and bowl and just let it all trickle out without forcing, leave it for 10 minutes or so if you can, gently draining. This is the oil you can store, and it will keep happily in a dark, cool place for 9-12 months.
You can usually get a ‘second press’ from the green gunk in the sieve. Push it gently into another bowl and squeeze out the last bits of oil. This oil will usually not store great, as it will have a higher moisture content, so you can use this oil immediately or within 1-4 weeks.