Thursday, August 30, 2012

Herbal Remedies

Ok, so to be honest, great things are not happening in the perennial bed.  Transplants died in our hot, dry spring, weeds overtook the beds while I was away, seeds never seemed to germinate...  I will add more seed directly outside to the same spots next spring, and maybe overwintering will help some of them out.  For now, I don't have a lot to work with.  Except, of course, for what was always there to begin with.

Plantain, Comfrey, Rose Hip, Raspberry Leaf

And the few transplants that took:

Jacob's Ladder,  Lady's Mantle, Speedwell

 An internet search on plantain (the easiest thing to start with- a simple weed) brought up some pretty basic instructions to make infused oils and salves.  The most basic,  CALENDULA - COMFREY SALVE RECIPE

I don't have any beeswax (or calendula), so I was thinking of just doing an infused oil, skipping the salve steps.  But further reading, through a blog's comments, led me to believe that I already have a good alternative, and access to an even better alternative in the future.

It seems that my beef tallow will work nicely as a salve in place of both the olive oil and the beeswax.  Isn't that handy?  And bear lard is supposed to be even better.  Right up my alley.  For now I will use the tallow, and render bear lard at my next opportunity.

Here's what I did.

Pick a bunch of plantain and comfrey leaves.  Chop them up roughly and put them in a baking pan.  
Add tallow.  The tallow is very hard in the jar, and has a beefy aroma.  I added a drizzle of olive oil after all, and some rose petals.
Stir and bake at 170°F (my lowest oven setting) for 3 hours.
Strain through cheesecloth.  (I didn't let it cool first, as it would start hardening).
Reheat the oil.
Add vitamin E.  Mix through.
Pour into jars.
It hardened to a lovely shade of green, with just a tiny bit of sediment at the bottom of the jars.  It smells pretty good, not really rosey, but not beefy either.  It's still a bit stiffer than I would like it, about the consistency of chapstick.  I'll add more olive oil to the next batch.  Must save more cute little jars!

Another one of those things- if it's so simple, when did it become so hard?  What shall I try next?


  1. Sweet! What a pretty green.

    I have more to say, but it borders on unsolicited advice so I'm keeping my mouth shut for a change. Will miracles never cease? lol

    Enjoy using your salve.

    1. Please, advise away! I'm totally new to herbs and herbal medicines here, so feel free!

    2. Reading that recipe reminded me of when I was first starting out with making toileties. I have fond memories. Making your own salves and balms is so rewarding and exciting as you know.

      The thing that stood out to me was the vitamin E. You may already know this...and if you do you are already ahead of me when I started...there is a man-made - tocopherYL, and a natural - tocopherOL. For salves you need to use the natural one. It has all its antioxident properties intact.

    3. Thanks, Sue. I wasn't aware of the difference 'chemically'? But I had read that wheat germ oil is the preferred, natural form of vitamin E. For this batch I just used some old vitamin E capsules I had at home here. They're not even in their original bottle, so I have no idea what they are.

    4. You're welcome. Vitamin capsules is what I use to use too. They're so easy use. Poke a hole with a pin, squeeze and you're in business :-)

  2. So sorry about your garden that did not make. I have always read warnings that herbs in oil makes the perfect medium for bacterial growth and toxicity. Does heating it kill the bacteria in the herbs? I guess I should have kept my mouth shut too, but it is just a question not a criticism. Did you see the nasty comment on my #10 Can post? Sue, do have posts on this kind of stuff? I like to read stuff like this. Some day, Wendy, I will make things like you do.

    1. Hmm. That's weird. I've been scouring web pages and the only concern I've read is that fresh herbs might develop mould, so dried herbs are preferred. I think that really only applies to the solar method- they don't have time to develop mould in the oven.

      No, I saw your reply, but the comment was removed.

    2. No, I don't Linda. It looks like Wendy beat me to it :-) I will be making lip balm soon and I'll post on that.

      Linda, if you can measure and pour there is no doubt, you will be able to do it.

      Wendy, I don't feel qualified to give a definitive answer on this, but I agree with you on drying the herbs first.

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