The garden is a beautiful affair. Tending plants has so much healing power. I find I am naturally more present when I spend time in the garden.
I think the reason gardening appeals to me so much is its ability to appeal to so many senses – the smell of damp soil and decaying leaves, the gentle brushing of stems and leaves against my fingers, the cloud of delicious scent released as I prune back the herbs, the sounds of lizards and beetles rustling in the leaf litter and birds calling from the trees, curious as to what I’m doing here…
A little frog was exposed by my trimming the oregano. He happily went hopping on his way through the leaf litter nearby.
Today I harvested some of the oregano, dill and lemon thyme I keep potted near the vegetable patch. I washed and set out the oregano and dill to dry – I start by drying it on plates in the sun for a day then move them indoors in the evening where I finish the drying process for a few more days. It’s important after rinsing the herbs that you really shake as much of the water off as possible so they don’t go mushy. I also stir up the leaves twice during the first day and once every other day to make sure the air moves through them fairly evenly to prevent mould growth.
The herbs are dried for a few days, about four is usually sufficient but you can judge it by when all the leaves are crispy and brittle and no longer soft and malleable. I then remove all the leaves from the stems and collect them in clean, dry jars for storage.
I had quite a lot of lemon thyme and few plans to use the dried product for cooking, so I decided to hang some bunches to dry in the kitchen and pantry just for the lovely scent. I decided to use the rest to make lemon thyme-infused sweet almond oil which I can use for a variety of things later including making a new moisturiser! I’ll keep you posted on that…
To infuse the oil, I chopped the lemon thyme into smaller pieces (a few centimetres long each) and placed them in a jar half filled with sweet almond oil. I packed quite a bit in there but not so much that it was packed tight because I want the oil to be able to surround all the surfaces of the stems and leaves. I used a fork to push the lemon thyme down in the jar and bruise it a bit to help it release it’s own essential oils into the sweet almond oil.
After I finished filling the jar with thyme I topped it up with sweet almond oil until all the leaves were covered. This is important – any sprigs left exposed to the air can grow mould which will contaminate your mixture and make it sour.
I tapped the jar to try and remove as many trapped air bubbles as possible then set it on a window shelf where the sun can warm it and speed up the infusion process.
It’ll take about two weeks or more to properly infuse the sweet almond oil with lemon thyme essential oils. When the process is finished, the lemon thyme can be strained from the oil. The infused oil should last until the expiry date of the carrier oil (sweet almond oil).
I’ll post the straining process and some uses for the infused oil when it’s ready soon, including how to make a moisturiser for your face and body!