(Hi there.. I've been here before 2006, 2008..., and had the same problem each time. Every time I try to set up an account, no matter the password I chose, it says that I can't have non-alpha numeric characters, which I don't use, and so I've just given up trying to create an account)
....to more important things.
I'm going to do a cold oil infusion of calendula petals but have struck a divergence of opinion. Some say never use fresh petals, only use dried and others never use dried and always fresh.
Some put their oils in the sun, and others don't. Some say sun ruins the oil; others say that's not true, because it's no different than heating the oil and doing a hot oil infusion.
Is there a defintive answer on this one, or is divergence of opinion not important?
1) Do I dry the calendula flower petals?
I'm also going to do a poppy oil, which is mentioned here: http://www.myherbcorner.com/wiki/index.php?title=Poppy except my poppies are multi-layered pink not red. I don't know what they are, but they've always grown here without anyone's say so... in the 30 years we've been here, and were here for decades before that too, so we are told. They are really pretty, so I thought I'd give it a go.
2) Which would be better? Hot oil, or cold oil?
3) Would I dry the poppy petals as well?
I'll put the poppy one in the sun....
Good to see you back again!
As with all things herbal, there is no real right and wrong way, just the way which suits you best and gives you the results you want. As you will have noticed, calendula flowers are sticky and smell strongly of "resin". When you dry them they take much longer than any other flowers - I usually allow at least a month, even with a gentle heat.
When making an infused oil, there is always the question of what to do with the water content if you are using fresh flowers. Some people advocate always using dried flowers or leaves to infuse, but then you lose some of the vital energy from the oil. If you are making an infused oil by the double heated infusion method, the water layer isn't so much of a problem, because you can just let it stand for a while at the end of the process and then decant the oil layer off the water layer.
If you are going to use sun infusion, then the moisture content of the herb is much more of a problem. You have to make sure that your oil covers the entire surface of the herb so no air can get in, otherwise you will have mould growing on the top and you've lost your entire oil.
If you're going to do the sun infused method, you're also looking at a six week infusion time, rather than four hours for the heated method, unless you live in Arizona or another place where temperatures are extremely high during the day. Darcey Blue makes her infused oils overnight by burying them in hot sand with good results.
Christopher Hedley, whose expertise I admire and value, recommends drying calendula flowers before making an oil because of their resinous nature. I follow his advice. Calendula oil is the only infused herbal oil I make from dried flower petals by the double infused heating method. I have never made a sun infused calendula oil in this country because you would only be able to make a single infusion (unless you were willing to spend three months making one batch of oil) and I'd be very worried about the mould problem.
Given that you have a greater probability of a hot summer than we have, if you have sufficient calendula flowers, I would suggest you dry half and infuse half fresh and see what the difference is with each oil. It would be great if you could report back when you've finished and let us know how you got on.
I'm afraid I don't have any experience with poppy. You might want to let it wilt for a day before infusing it so you reduce the water content before you immerse the petals in the oil.
Kate, who also posts here and at the Herbwifery Forum is also in NZ and she may have more experience in this area.