July 27, 2015
Here in Maine, as with many places that experience the four seasons, we welcome the coming of spring with open arms. The return of spring, also means the return of the plants, trees, migrating animals and the wild edibles and medicinals.
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is one of these wild edible/medicinals that I eagerly welcome back. The entire plant is both edible and medicinal and I use the flower, leaves and roots to make tea, tinctures, oils, vinegars, wine, beer and I also cook with them.
Today I am going to highlight the beautiful dandelion flower and how to make and use dandelion flower oil.
A field of dandelions in full bloom is a brilliant sight to see in the springtime. These flowers not only bring a smile to my face but they also bring warmth to my heart, and every spring I make a golden herbal oil with these flowers.
Dandelion oil has a lovely relationship with breasts and the breast tissue, making it a great oil to be used for breast massage. Dandelion oil can help ease and release tension and the deep emotions that can be stored away in our breast tissue. I believe that regular breast massage, using oils that have an affinity for the breasts, will help encourage us to provide our breasts and ourselves with a deeper sense of support, confidence, kindness and love. Here are some, not all, but some other oils that mix well with dandelion oil for the breasts: Dandelion root, Lady's Mantle, Violet, Calendula, Burdock seeds, Rose and Sacred Basil.
Dandelion flower oil can also be used as a fabulous moisturizer for the body, and a deep relaxant and tension reliever. Dandelion oil makes a great choice of oil for receiving a full body massage. It has the ability to help release stored emotions that are being held with in our muscle tissue, which can cause us deep tension and stress. It also works well on achy sore muscles, joints, swollen breasts and tense backs and necks.
To make this lovely oil, find a place to gather the flowers that is away from roads and free of pesticides and chemicals. Pick a nice sunny day or at least wait till the morning dew has evaporated off of the plants and gather the the full, non-damaged, healthiest looking blossoms. Please be mindful and thankful when you are gathering the dandelion blossom as with all herbal gathering that you do.
Once you have gathered the flowers bring them home, spread them out evenly on a drying screen and let the flowers lay out for a day. I suggest letting the flowers wilt for a day as opposed to using the freshly picked flowers due to the water content in the flowers. Water and oil don't mix and the presence of water in the oil can encourage the oil to go rancid. This has happened to me a number of times while making fresh herbal oils, so now, depending on the plant, I will usually let the plant material lay out on screens for a day.
After the flowers have wilted for a day I then place them into a sterile jar, I use mason jars which come in pint, quart and half gallons sizes. I fill the jar right up with flowers, making sure not to pack the flowers in to tight, I keep them nice and loose. Then I use an organic or pesticide free olive oil and slowly fill the jar with oil. You will see little air bubbles finding there way to the top of the jar. I use a wooden skewer to help encourage the air out of the jar, this is very important, the presence of air can also spoil your oil. Getting all of the air out can take sometime, keep refilling the jar with oil until you know longer see any air bubbles. Cover the jar and place on a plate or in a container, because the jar will weep a bit and can make a mess. You will want to check the oil over the next few days and weeks, checking to see if more oil needs to be added to the jar. You should place the oil in a dark place that is not to warm and not to cool for at least two weeks and up to six.
Label your jar clearly, write the date that you made the oil, what the oil is, did you use fresh, wilted or dry material, and sometimes it can be nice to keep track of where you harvested on the label also.
After two to six weeks it is time to strain the oil. I use a metal mesh strainer and a piece of unbleached cheese cloth inside of that strainer. I use bowl that has been cleaned and sterilized and slowly pour the jar of oil with dandelions into the strainer. As the flowers come out I squeeze the excess oil out of them and then add them to the compost, I do this in stages. It will make a mess if you pour the whole contents into the strainer at once. When you have strained everything off, place your new golden oil into a sterile beautiful bottle or jar and admire. If you are going to use a clear jar store the oil in a dark place. Amber colored jars or bottles make a great storage place for oils, but then you don't get to see the beautiful colors, so just be aware of where you store the oil. Olive oil comes in dark jars for a reason, it helps keep the oil stable, where the presence of air and light can encourage the oil to spoil. I use olive oil the most when making herbal oils because it is one of the most stable oils and it does a great job of extracting medicinal properties from plant material.
I have mentioned to avoid things that could spoil or cause your oil to go rancid a few times, this is something to be aware of. When making an oil sometimes they can go bad and when they do you will know. It is just an awful smell, a smell that makes you understand something has gone wrong. If this happens, don't be discouraged, compost the jar contents and try again. Think about what you could do differently next time, like check on it more often to make sure the oil is to the top covering all of the plant material. Plant material that is exposed to air and not covered with the oil can also encourage spoiling.
The last thing to be aware of when making herbal oils is that sometimes mold will grow in the oil, this usually happens when the plant material is left to long in the jar. If this happens and the oil still smells good and not rancid, then just scoop the mold out of the jar with a spoon, making sure that you got it all. The oil should be fine to use after you remove the mold.
Now that you have your lovely dandelion oil, use it, share a bottle with friends and family and enjoy!