Winter is my break from the pharmacy. Summer feels like a frantic race to harvest and process a lot of plants. This week I finally had the chance to get my oils into new amber bottles after straining them two weeks ago. As I poured all of these oils, I noticed a lot of sludge and large bubbles of water at the bottom of their jars. I have been infusing oils for 25 years and with the exception of fresh calendula flowers, which are dense and resinous, have ever had an oil mold or go off. The use of pure organic olive oil works well with both fresh and dried plant material. It insures a lovely result even when I strain past six weeks or the oil is several years old.
The only factors that I can attribute to this new problem are…
I used an olive oil that was not pure. It is getting hard to find olive oil grown and processed in the US at my grocery store.
I tarted the infusions on a full moon, when water content tends to be higher in plants
There had been a recent storm or higher humidity level
I did an early fall harvest instead of mid summer
The use of “wetter” herbs that I have not infused in years past
Harvesting plant material that was not fully dry. Maybe I should try “wilting” them a bit in the sun.
I ruptured cell walls during processing- releasing water by “cutting” materials down to fit in jar OR squeezing them too much with the press ( I think this is the most likely explanation as all the jars had the same problem and this was the first time I decided not to strain by hand).
I should not have waited strain four months to strain
The following oils were new experiments for me
Angelica archangelica is a biennial/perennial plant in the parsley family. It very important to be sure of with identification for any plants in this family as it includes poison hemlock and hogweed, which are poisonous. Angelica grows well in most urban gardens. In the wild it prefers environments that are damp-swamps and marshes or well watered by rivers or streams. This plant grows 3-10 feet high. The stem is tall, thick, hollow, grooved, and tends to branch at the top. It is bright green with a blue/white matt like bloom. It’s few leaves grow from the stem as a sheath similar to celery. These can be quite large , triple divided and pinnate in shape. The pale green flowers grow as a large , spherical, compound umbel at the top of the plant . The “fruit” are green, oblong and similar to fennel but as they dry burst into yellow two winged seeds. The roots are red to brown. Like most members in its family, the whole plant has a very distinctive smell and taste. Angelica is sweet, spicey, and agreeable with a bitter aftertaste. All parts of this herb have been used as medicine.
Angelica has been used to address all manner of complaints related to the digestive and respiratory systems. It may provide relief for gas, ulcers, indigestion, colic, stomach cramps, vomiting, coughs, colds, asthma, bronchitis, It has a historical use in treating retained placenta, weak kidneys or spleen, headache, poor appetite, water retention, anemia, poor circulation in the hands or feet, painful periods or menstrual problems, urinary tract infections, the flu, and motion sickness.
Externally as a salve, lotion, or wash- Angelica has been used for rheumatism, muscle cramps, wounds, scabies, itchy skin, gout, arthritis, and electric shock.
Studies have shown this herb to be anti-fungal , anti-bacterial and anti-microbial. Useful as an anti-septic or antibiotic.
The stems are candied for desserts and the leaves pair well with seafood or soup.
Contraindications:large dose or therapeutic prolonged use can have a negative effect on blood pressure, respiratory rate and heart action. Do not take during pregnancy, if you are diabetic, with a high fever, have a bleeding disorder/hemorrhage. Use only the dry root.