Ruby and I are doing a workshop next weekend on Traditional Herbal Medicines. And since Susan has featured violets in this week's email newsletter, "All About Thyme", we're going to include a violet salve.
In times past, you couldn't just go to your nearest drugstore for an ointment or salve to soothe those minor skin irritations, chapped hands, scratches, and the like. You made your own, or you went without. But making your own was no mystery. Here's a basic recipe for violet that you might like to try, when violets begin blooming in your part of the country.
1 cup olive or almond oil
2 ounces grated bees wax
1/2 Cup fresh violet flowers and chopped leaves
1/2 teaspoon honey
1 400 mg Vit E gel cap (a preservative)
2 drops violet essential oil (fragrance)
Heat the oil gently in a non-reactive saucepan. Add wax, violet flowers and leaves, and honey and mix well. Simmer on low heat for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes. Add the essential oil and oil from the Vit 3 gel cap and stir. Strain out herbal material. Pour into a clean lidded container. Refrigerate.
Sage, plantain, thyme, mullein, yarrow, and lavender are other important healing herbs that have traditionally been used in salves and ointments. All have antiseptic and antibiotic properties, and herbalists have developed their own "secret formulas" by using them in various combinations. In practice, people probably used whatever was locally available, and since they gathered and dried their own, they used dried materials when fresh were not available. Instead of a saucepan, you might want to experiment by using a crockpot--this will enable you to hold the herbal material in a very low heat longer. One way to do this is to put the oil, grated beeswax, and herbal materials into a clean container and set it in a couple of cups of hot water in the crockpot. Let this simmer for 10-12 hours, then strain into a clean container, add fragrance and Vit E oils, and refrigerate.
If you'd like to join us for the workshop, we'll be holding it in Thyme Cottage (behind Thyme & Seasons, next to the Apothecary Garden) on Saturday, starting at 10 a.m. We'll take a break around noon for lunch in the tea room, and plan to end the workshop about three. We'd love to see you!--China Bayles