The easiest way to dry herbs is to tie them up in bunches and hang them in a hot dry place with good air circulation, like a well vented attic. When they are dry, crush them into a powder and store them in paper bags, properly labeled. Flowers like goldenrod, calendula and chamomile should be dried on a paper towel placed on top of a grille or rack, so that there is good air circulation underneath. These dried plants are the basic components of your teas, balms and infused oils, so make sure to select clean healthy plants
Basil is a special sacred herb, with uses from scenting of holy water and dressing up icons to seasoning tomato sauces and filling fragrant sachets for linen closets. Girls of older times used to place basil flowers under their pillows to dream who they would marry. This sun loving annual plant with its intense incense aroma has been traditionally used to infuse cooking oils, which is a healthy way to spice up your salad, since basil provides excellent benefits for your digestive tract. It is a wonderful companion plant for tomatoes and peppers, plant them together and they will all thrive and become more flavorful. Pick up the flowers before they ripen because after growing and spreading its seed, the plant will die. The highly fragrant basil flowers, which range in color from white to pink to lavender and purple, will spice up a bath sachet or a linen closet and keep moths away. Keep reading the “Fragrant Sachets of Dried Herbs” section for ways to dry and use basil.
INGREDIENTS: (1) cup of infused oil (see instructions below), (1) ounce of beeswax.
To prepare infused oil, fill a glass jar with the dried aromatic plant of choice ( in this case dried calendula petals mixed with dried crushed mint leaves) and pour enough good quality oil in the jar to completely cover them. Place a piece of cheesecloth or an unbleached coffee filter over the mixture, secure it with a rubber band and place the jar in a sunny window for 10 days. Do not put a lid on the jar, or you might need to paint the ceiling sooner than you planned. After 10 days strain out the plant material to recover the oil. Good oils to use are almond oil, coconut oil, peanut oil, sunflower oil.
To prepare the salve, warm but don’t boil the infused oil. Separately melt the wax and pour it into the warmed oil. Pour a drop of the mixture onto a plate and put it in the freezer until it cools completely. After it cooled, try it on your hands for consistency. If it is too thin, add more wax. If it is too thick, add more oil. Pour the warm liquid in small tins or glass jars and allow it to cool down completely before covering. Keep it in the refrigerator for up to a year.
Calendula, or Pot Marigold, is a herbaceous annual famous for its skin soothing properties. It is used in salves, lotions, tinctures and compresses for minor cuts, scrapes, and skin irritations.
Plant outside from seed; germination is very reliable. Harvest only the flowers immediately after they open for best medicinal properties. Make sure to pick the flowers before they ripen. When all flowers have gone to seed, calendula will die. Allow the crop of flowers before the frost to produce seeds for the following year. More on seed harvesting and storing in the “Seeds, Roots and other Cuttings” section.