How to Put Summer in a Bottle

I finally found a way to preserve a little piece of summer to enjoy all year long! And just in time, too. Every morning now there is frost on everything when I leave for work… I have to wear shoes and socks, when I much prefer bare feet… We’ve had our first round of colds in our house… Yep, the signs are clear — winter is on the way.

Imagine how delightful it was for me to open the bottle of Goldenrod infused oil that I made this summer and be instantly transported back to a bright sunny August day just by its heady aroma! I’m not sure I can adequately express in words what a powerful and joyful experience that was. All of a sudden it felt as though I was sitting out in the middle of a hazy, lazy August afternoon with fragrant wildflowers and buzzing bees all around. It was pure joy.

One of my favorite things to do in cold weather is to take a hot bath before bed, for the warmth more than anything else. I also usually add a little oil to the water to counter the inevitable dry skin I get during this season. For last night’s bath, I put lots of drops of my Goldenrod oil in the water and just immersed myself in it. What bliss!

In addition to its use as a bath oil, I have also found Goldenrod oil to be a wonderful oil for working out tight, spasmed muscles and relieving pain. My neck tends to spasm from an old whiplash injury, so when it starts cramping really bad, giving me a headache, I just rub the oil deeply into the tissues and I am usually pain free soon after. And the pain doesn’t return for a long while. The drops of oil in the bath water just enhance this relaxing, pain-relieving effect all through the body.

It is too late this year to harvest your own goldenrod (which tends to grow everywhere during the summer — you likely won’t have a problem finding it in the right season), but I would highly encourage everyone to put a reminder on next August’s calendar to be on the lookout for it. There are many different species of Goldenrod that often grow near one another, some more aromatic than others. Look for the kind that has a strongly pleasant fragrance, which you can sample by simply crushing some of the flower buds and leaves.

Making infused oil

Making an infused oil of the fresh flowering tops is super easy. Just take some scissors out to your chosen patch of Goldenrod that is just beginning to open its flowers, and clip the flowering tops off. It’s okay to have some stems and leaves, too. Let them wilt for a little while to remove some of the moisture, then cut them into small pieces and fill a clean, completely dry, glass jar, pushing them down to really fill it — this takes a lot of flowers — then pour pure cold-pressed olive oil over them. Stir to remove any air bubbles and then fill to the very top with the oil. You want to make sure there is absolutely no moisture in the jar before you start and that you cover the herb completely with oil so as not have any air making contact with the herb, as either of these situations will encourage mold to grow. Don’t forget to put on a label with the date, name of the herb, and the menstrum (olive oil). Sit in a dry place out of direct sunlight to brew for at least six weeks. Shake the jar whenever you think about it.

Also check it frequently to make sure there isn’t any mold growing. If you do find mold, you can sometimes remove it if it is just on the surface or along the sides of the jar. You would simply skim the mold off the top, or in the case of mold growing on the jar, pour off the good oil into a clean dry jar leaving the mold behind. Occasionally, mold will grow throughout the oil and you will lose the whole batch and have to throw it out. This happened to me once when I left my jar sitting in a too moist place. But for the most part, I have not had any problems with mold in my oils.

So save this post, or make a note to come back to it next August — then next year you will be able to enjoy summer even on the coldest of days all through the winter!

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