The white of winter gives way to the bright greens of new grass and the delightful yellow of the dandelions that sprout up and speckle the landscape. Our land is once again ready to grow and nurture so many things. Those cheerful dandelions are our very first crop at my house. Dandelions are such an underutilized part of the backyard homestead, but they shouldn’t be. They grow for free and are plentiful, even if your neighborhood association deems them weeds. We like to pick the greens for eating, not just in salads, but also for our chickens. The dandelion roots and heads can be made into herbal teas as well. However, one of my favorite ways to use the dandelion heads is to infuse them in olive oil and make salves.
Dandelion Salve is great for skin care. It works wonders for my hands as well as my chickens combs. After all, your chicken’s comb is a great way to evaluate the health of your bird. The comb should be a rosy pink, plump and without spots. Black spots on a comb indicate possible frostbite or even fowl pox. A pale comb can indicate heat exhaustion or dehydration. Combs are also some of the first parts attacked when the pecking order in your flock gets reestablished. I use the dandelion oil salve as a way to aid healing and promote general comb health. If ever you are concerned about the health of a bird, it is always good to check with a professional.
There are a few ways to infuse olive oil with dandelions, but the ways I know all start with dried dandelion flowers. Fresh flowers contain too much moisture and can promote the growth of mold and spoilage. My favorite way to dry the flowers is to pick fresh dandelions, lay them out on a parchment paper covered cookie sheet and let dry in a sunny place for a couple of days. But, if you are in need to the dried flowers and oil a little faster, you can dry your dandelions in the oven. Use a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and let your flowers dry in a 200F oven for 1 hour. Toss the drying flowers, turn off the oven and then let them finish drying in the cooling oven for an additional hour.
Dandelion Infused Oil:
- Glass Pint Jar with lid and rings – washed clean and sterilized
- 1 cup of dried dandelion heads
- Olive Oil
Place your dried flowers in the clean glass jar. Fill with the olive oil, leaving 1 inch of headspace at the top of your jar. Use a butter knife to get out any air bubbles that may be present and cap your jar. From here, you can store in a cool, dark place, for 4 to 6 weeks to let the dandelions and oil fully infuse. Shake your jar once a day to help the process. However, being the ever impatient person that I am, you can also infuse your oil in a crockpot/slow cooker. After a long winter, my skin and the chickens combs need some TLC and I am usually pretty anxious for my first batch of dandelion oil salve. To speed up the process, put a small towel or washcloth on the bottom of your slow cooker. Next, place your your filled jar on the towel. Fill the slow cooker with water until the water reaches about 1/2 of the way up the jar. Turn the crockpot to the warm setting and let heat slowly for 6 to 8 hours. Your temperature of the oil should be between 100F to 120F. Any higher and you are cooking the oil and no longer infusing it. During this heating process, it is helpful to shake the jar(s) of oil to help mix and fully infuse the oil. Once done, allow the jars to cool to room temperature before straining the flowers out of the oil. I do a double straining method. First with a fine baking sifter and next with a cheesecloth. Once strained and free of debris, you have a wonderful infused oil.
Now that you have Dandelion infused oil, you can make salve…. Yay Salve!
(In this salve, I use an 8:1 oil to beeswax ratio)
- 7oz Dandelion Infused Olive Oil
- 1oz Coconut Oil
- 1oz Beeswax Pastilles – You can grate beeswax instead of using pastilles
In a glass jar, mix your oils and beeswax. Set this jar into a pan filled with a couple inches of water. Begin to heat to a low, medium low, heat. Stir until everything is melted and combined. Once combined, remove from the heat and pour into smaller containers or keep in the same glass jar you melted everything in.
This salve is great for your chickens combs as well as your own hands after a long dry winter or digging in the dirt all day. A little dab will do you and your birds. Just rub into the skin and enjoy the moisturizing and healing benefits from the all natural salve made from your very own dandelion harvest.