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Kitchen Witchery: Dandelion Salve

Summer seems to have come quite early to Tennessee this year. Everything has greened up and its been in the 80's here for the past few weeks! The sunshine has been lavish and the goats are loving the tender new leaves cropping up everywhere... 

The super warm weather has made us kick into high gear, trying to get the garden and everything else under the sun done before it's "too late" and we starve, or eat more WallMart produce (I think we'd starve). This week, this has meant shoveling lots of gravel (fun!). At some point in time, someone here was much enamoured of gravel, as evidenced by its prolific abundance in every imaginable nook and cranny. Covering the patio (why?), embedded in weeds and grass as an abstract walkway accented by truck mud flaps (huh?), piled against one side of the house so that the storm water drains right into our crawl space...  

I'm working on the garden this week and am kicking off my gravel extraction mission by clearing off the patio so I don't have to weed it, and it's actually pleasant to use (ie. more pleasant than shards of glass hidden betwixt sharp hunks of rock and rusted old beer bottle caps). I've been chipping away at it every morning before it gets crazy hot, 2 or 3 wheelbarrow full a day and I'm almost there. My farm muscles have been growing (I can actually crack Scrapple's back with a bear hug now), but I'm not quite popeye yet. That is to say, I've been really sore.

Somehow, with perfect timing, a little recipe popped up in my email this morning for Dandelion Salve. Dandelion flowers have weak analgesic properties, and the salve can be rubbed on sore muscles or joints for natural relief. Perfect! If there's something we have around here in as much abundance as sore muscles, it's dandelions!

The recipe is from Raganella, a neat little company started in Brooklyn when we were living there. The woman who started it is amazing and has all sorts of great natural blends for cleaning, bath, and body. She always gave really interesting demos at the market and I always wish I had asked her more questions! 

I collected the dandelions this morning (after gravel shoveling) and they're now sitting in a little jar on my windowsill as directed. In a few weeks I'll let you know how it turns out, but I thought I'd share this with you now, while the flowers are in full attack mode (at least here!).

Raganella's Dandelion Salve Instructions:

First, infuse the oil
Fill a mason jar to the top with freshly picked, yet slightly wilted dandelion blossoms. Cover with good quality oil, like olive oil (first cold pressing) or sesame (my favorite). Grab a chopstick and stir, ensuring there are no air pockets around the blossoms. Cover the jar with cheesecloth (you can screw the outer ring of a mason jar lid around it, or use a rubber band to secure it). Place in a sunny window for 4 to 6 weeks. 

Then decant it
Decant the oil by straining out the blossoms through a layer of cheesecloth, placed over a fine mesh sieve. I like to place this over a large pyrex measuring cup with a pour spout. Squeeze all of the oil out of blossoms, then add the marc (the squeezed out plant material) to your compost. Pour your infused oil into a dark glass jar for storage. Recycled amber glass vitamin bottles work well. 

To make 2 oz of salve
Create a double boiler with a pyrex measuring cup in a simmering pot of water. Place 1/4 ounce of beeswax in the pyrex and let it melt. Add 1 3/4 ounces of infused oil to the pyrex. Stir the beeswax and oil until the beeswax is melted. Take the mixture off the heat. Pour into a 2 ounce amber glass jar.

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