St. John's Wort Herbal Oil Infusion

St. John's Wort - that sunny, cheerful little weed-like wildflower that can be used in almost every way. She's probably on every herbalist's favorites list and I just love her! Because she grows so well here in our state, she's made her way onto our noxious weed list. I may not be able to grow her myself, but I do order in the fresh flowering tops once a year to make my own St. John's Wort infused herbal oil. It's always such a joy when the box shows up at my door!

When you make a St. John's Wort [Hypericum perforatum] infused oil, you want to make it with fresh plant material, not dried. While some herbal oils can be made with the dried version of the herb, this is one of the oils that just won't turn out right unless you use the fresh plant. If you're able to grow it yourself or wildharvest (sustainably) some, you'll typically harvest the top 4-6" of the flowering tops (though some herbalists use mostly buds, with very little leaves). You'll know it's ready to harvest when you squeeze one of the buds between your fingers and the bud stains your fingers with a dark red-purple color. If you don't see that color on your fingers, you're either too early or too late. There's a very short window for harvesting St. John's Wort, so check your plants daily once you start seeing buds.

When you get your flowering tops home, you'll want to spread them out on a clean surface so any moisture on them can evaporate and any critters that have made their homes in the flowers can don't want them in your oil!

Making the infusion is pretty simple. Fill your glass jar with your St. John's Wort until the jar is 1/2 to 2/3 full. Pour organic, cold pressed extra virgin Olive oil over the herbs until they're covered, with maybe an extra inch of oil over top of them. Use the end of a wooden spoon (or a chopstick) to stir it all a bit so trapped air bubbles will be released and add more oil if needed. I typically end up letting the herbs settle in the oil overnight, then top them off with a bit more oil in the morning so I know they're covered. You don't want any plant material sticking up out of the oil - it could either cause mold or introduce bacteria into your oil and spoil the whole jar.

Screw your jar lid on tightly and give the jar a good shake before setting it in a sunny window (or outside in a safe, sunny place). You'll want to let your oil solar infuse for 4-6 weeks. Not all herbs are well suited to a solar infused oil, but St. John's Wort is at its best in an oil prepared this way, so leave your jars in a sunny area where your infusion can soak up all that yummy solar energy! Give your jar a good shake every day when you walk by it. Soon you'll notice that your oil turns a rich, red color - this is supposed to happen - the oil is extracting all that therapeutic hypericin and the other medicinal compounds from the plant - the richer and darker the red, the higher the quality of your oil.

After 4-6 weeks, strain all of the plant matter out of the oil by running the oil through a fine muslin or cheescloth-lined fine mesh stainless steel strainer. It's a good idea to squeeze it through a muslin-lined potato ricer so you can get all of that medicinal oil out of the plant material. Store your finished oil in a dark glass jar in a cool place away from heat and direct sunlight. You can use this finished oil in your homemade herbal salves, ointments, massage oils, aromatherapy recipes, etc. It can even be used on its own! Enjoy your St. John's Wort oil!

Much love,

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