Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Is it supposed to be smoking like this?

The lilac at sunset
So anyway, I decided to take advantage of this week's lilac bloom by making some lilac oil. Some people call it lilac essential oil, probably out of habit or a healthy sense of marketing. But it's not an essential oil, it's an infused oil.

The difference is significant in one sense and not in one other.  As far as use goes, there's very little difference: you put the oil in your diffuser or however you use it and use it.  But as far as what the oil is, that's the difference.

An essential oil is distilled from the plant alone.  If I make mint essential oil, for example, I am taking the oil from the mint leaves. The oil is there, I'm just sucking it out.  But for an infused oil, I'm beginning with a base oil, usually a light one like grapeseed oil, and then infusing that oil with whatever smell I want by 'cooking' a bunch of flowers in it.

So with that non-important distinction clearly in mind, I may have screwed up this batch.

The recipe is simple, you just place your flowers* in the oil and cook it on the lowest heat you can for 6-8 hours, 'bruising' the flowers every 2 hours or so to release the smellies. You then let the oil (with flowers strained out) sit for a couple weeks.  I added two steps: I froze the flowers for an hour**, then put them in the dehydrator for half an hour to remove excess moisture.  But that's not the problem.

The problem is that I put it in at 6ish last night, intending to turn it off at 10 and have Rogue finish the cooking this afternoon so I could process it tonight.  Instead, at 10 I washed up the dehydrator but forgot to turn off the crock pot with my concoction in it. The lovely and gracious Rogue turned it off at 5:30 this morning and reported that it was boiling and bubbling like no one's business.

So while it cooked too long, it's also likely it cooked too hot.  When I get home tonight, I'll extract the oil by running it though the jelly strainer, then put it away for the required two weeks.  At that point we'll know if it's good or if it will make the house smell like an engine fire.

Unfortunately, at that point it may be too late to do another batch, as the flowers don't bloom forever. I may have to do another batch tonight, just in case. I know, what a shame.

UPDATE: That was a fail. I don't even need to store it two weeks to realize that I cooked the gentle flowery goodness right out of it. Time to start over.

* how many? a whole bunch.
** because bees and ants.


  1. ElBo
    because bees and ants.

    freezing the bees and ants makes them taste better?

    how about "Infused Bee Oil"?

    i tells ya, i'm a marketing genius!

    1. You can buy bee balm body oil, but I'm petty sure it's not made of bees. You might just have discovered a niche market, my friend.

  2. have you had an opportunity to test the mint mulch idea yet? or is that coming this summer?

    1. I used it last summer in the bush beans and the few peppers that survived. It worked as a mulch, though I'm not sure it kept the bugs at bay any more than shredded paper mulch does.

      My comfrey is almost big enough now that I can use that as well, at least in the smaller beds. So I think that with the arrival of my still, I'm going to have a far better use for my extra mint than weed and bug suppression.

  3. Does Rogue ever box your ears?

  4. and reported that it was boiling and bubbling like no one's business.
    That was a fail.

    your crockpot runs too hot for what you're trying to do.

    i know how to solve that problem.

    you want a Sous Vide heater. they cook between 130F and 200F and are very finely adjustable.