Luxury from the garden - Lilac infused oil

The end of July is such a busy time.  I feel that summer is nearly over, almost before it began and there is still so much to do.  I have a long list of things to complete in my allotment garden and my own garden at home is getting very overgrown and slightly neglected.  I was late in dividing the plants this spring, mostly because of the cold weather, so I need to do that in autumn.  I have a few plants that are getting way too big and they have smothered some smaller ones.  So I need to tidy it up a bit this fall, if it is to look decent next spring. But as I sit and look out into the garden I am amazed that is looks quite nice.

I have mostly chosen plants and shrubs with pink flowers (Peonies, Dicentra, Astrantia, Deutzia, Clematis, Honeysuckle, Lonicera tatarica, Lilac, Syringa palibin, and the dainty Saxifraga x urbium) and a few with white ones (Peonies, Rhododendron, Lily of the valley, Astilbe, Amelanchier, Philadelphus), dark reds (Peonies, Astrantia, Hollyhock) some violet (mostly Campanulas) and an occasional yellow (Primulas, Trollius, Rosa Friesia, Honeysuckle, Iris pseudacorous) and blue (Clematis Alpina, Iris sibirica, Geranium and Violas).  I have a small Japanese maple with it's lovely aubergine foliage and a similarly coloured Viburnum diablo as well as my apple tree to contrast all the green foliage of the ferns and shrubs as well a a couple of Euphorbias, one lime green and one purple. So all in all I am pleased with the garden. I do miss some of the plants that I have tried many times to get to grow in my garden, but without success. Clematis montana, Anemone sylvestris and A. hupehensis and many, many Hellebores are among my many casualties.   And all the Mediterranean herbs, Rosemary, Thyme and the lovely Lavender.  I have killed them all repeatedly.

I am always interested in adding new plants, especially if they have a nice scent. I really, really like the ones that smell good and constantly bury my nose in them and inhale deeply.  I have often lamented the fact that it isn't possible to make essential oils from some of the loveliest flowers like Honeysuckle, Lilac, Viola and Lily of the Valley to name but a few.  But I have found a way to capture some of their scent to keep for the winter months.  I infuse their flowers in oil.  So now my kitchen tables are covered in flowers that I am drying slightly which I then intend to cover in olive oil.

I pick the flowers in full bloom when they smell the strongest.  It is of course best to pick them in dry weather around midday, but before it gets hot, but beggars can't be choosers, so I pick them even when it rains.  I just let them dry off a bit before I put them in a jar and pour oil over them, making sure the oil completely covers the flowers.  I am using Olive oil now, but I have used Almond oil, Peach kernel and Sunflower oil as well as Jojoba.  It is best to choose an oil that agrees with your skin and has a decent shelf life.

The important thing is to infuse the same oil at least three times.  I let the flowers or petals sit in the oil for 2-3 days and then strain it and squeeze the plant material well with my hands to get all the oil back in the jar.  Inevitably there is always some water that gets mixed up with the oil and it can look quite gunky.  The smell of the oil may also be slightly off in the middle stages of this process.  Don't let that bother you, all will be well.  When the last flowers or petals have been strained out I let the oil sit for a bit and let the gunk sink to the bottom.  I then use a Turkey baster to transfer the oil into the final squeaky clean container, be it a bottle or a jar.  That way the oil is pristine and completely free from any impurities and the gunk is left at the bottom of the old jar.  It may be a good idea to add some vitamin E to the oil and store it in a cool place to ensure that it keeps well.  I use infused oils as a face serum and body lotion and I also use them in my creams.  They make really nice gifts when bottled in pretty bottles with nice labels.

I am quite excited to be getting my first batch of Lilac oil.  The lilac flowered quite profusely this year so I can sacrifice a few perfect flowers without denuding my shrub.  Last year I made Lilac drink, which was really nice, but this year I am making infused oil from my Lilacs.  I'm also in the process of making Rose oil and Calendula oil and will make some Honeysuckle oil as well when they flowers and another batch of Honeysuckle infused honey.  I still have my rose oil from last year and it smells divine and I can't think of a lovelier way to start and end each day.
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Comments

  1. I love this , I want some....I´m a big fan of infused oil , but from Lilac...yes its a luxury!
    You are lucky , enjoy it !
    Love&Bless,
    Claudia

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  2. Are you saying that just now your lilac bushes are in bloom? If that's the case..wow! Here they go into bloom in late April, early May! Lovely post once again, Ambra. I, too, infuse oils using mostly olive because of it's shelf life. I find the scent a bit distracting, somehow the olive oil always comes through. Infusing at the time: Calendula, St John's Worth, Chamomile. I have tried to capture the scent of Lindenblossom and Elderberry blossom, but it turned out so faint, despite multiple infusions. Your garden sounds heavenly and I think I'll go work in mine now :)

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  3. Amazing that Your lilac flowers right now. I've never heard of a lilac drink/saft or honey suckle honey before, but it sounds interesting. I infused oil with lavender before and it turned out great. I'll try the lilac oil when our lilac will bloom again in the beginning of may.
    Thanks for sharing Your recipes.
    Petra

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  4. Yes girls. The Lilacs are in bloom now. I'm just cutting the last blooms off now. We have really short summers, so everything tends to flower later here and all at the same time basically, mostly June and July. The roses flower in July and August and sometimes later. I remember one that I had that flowered so late that the buds always froze. I never saw it's flowers fully open :)

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  5. You are so resourceful! I am also amazed that your lilacs are currently blooming! I actually had a customer ask for more lilac soap in the fall line-up and I thought it was strange since it's a Spring flower here. :)

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  6. When infusing flowers, I use Almond Oil instead of Olive oil that way just the scent of the flower comes through.

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  7. i have a question...you mention that you infuse the same oil at least three times...with the same lilacs? do you pour in, take out lilacs and then cover the lilacs again or use another batch of flowers? this is my first time to try this so i want it to work well the first time so i have the amazing lilac oil when i am done...thank you
    Sharon

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  8. Sharon, I sieve the oil and discard the spent flowers (I squeeze out all the oil) and then add a fresh batch of flowers to the same oil. This way the scent is stronger. Also, there will be a sediment at the bottom. You should let the final oil sit to let the sediment sit at the bottom and then pour the oil from the container to a new and clean one (or use a turkey baster) and discard the sediment. And it's best to store the oil in the fridge :) Good luck and have fun.

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