🌞 Community Apothecary: Midsummer Herbal Oil Recipe
The Community Apothecary is a network of medicine gardens in Waltham Forest, north London. Our vision is collective sharing of herbal healthcare through participatory learning, cultivation, harvesting and medicine making in community spaces.
This video is a solstice open evening at Mulberry Close, our largest garden, an allotment site in Chingford where we are growing medicinal herbs and developing a forest garden within a wild ecosystem. It shows our midsummer gathering of people - volunteers and visitors - as part of Capital Growth’s Spotlight Garden programme in June 2022. With fellow herbalists Aamirah Patel & Sarah Wright, Rasheeqa Ahmad of the Community Apothecary shows the making of a summer herb infused oil to be used in healing skin preparations.
Fill a sterilised glass jar, loosely packed to the top, with fresh chamomile & calendula flowers picked from the garden or fields (you can also infuse other aromatic summertime flowerheads like St John’s wort, yarrow, mugwort, lavender.
Once the jar is full take an oil of your choice – we use olive, sunflower, almond, grapeseed or safflower, you want any oil that will remain stable – and pour it over the flowers until the jar is completely full.
Use a chopstick to push air bubbles up and out of the oil. Make sure all the plant material is completely submerged in the oil. Any that is sticking out will go mouldy and you don't want this.
Put the lid on and label your jar with date, contents and instructions – which are tostrain out in 1 month’s time. To do this, pass the oil through a strainer with some muslin cloth sitting in it and push all of it through (the herbs will hold on to some so you can squeeze the muslin cloth to get as much out as possible). You can use the spent herbs in the bath or compost them.
Your oil is then ready to use as a body massage and therapeutic oil. chamomile and calendula bring sun energy, have anti-inflammatory and skin healing activity and can soothe rashes and irritations. You can also make a balm with the oil or include it as an ingredient in a herbal cream.