Putting Up

What is it about Mason jars? I just love them. When I have the time, and when summer's bounty is piling up in my refrigerator and atop my counters, I thoroughly enjoy the process of canning and putting up those tastes of summer to enjoy throughout the winter. And as I, in the dead of winter, taste those strawberry preserves or pickled okra, I dream again about planting the next spring garden. And there is not only the taste but the sight as well. Those colors and textures, being all showy through the glass, and those jars all aligned in pretty rows on shelves, are a sight to behold. There is just a simple beauty to it all.

So, in my soapmaking processes, as I decided to spread my wings just a little further, I started thinking about using infused oils in my recipes. First up was a dandelion-infused oil, from which I just made my first batch of Dandelion-Poppyseed soap last week. To make this oil, I handpicked dandelions, and laid them out on wax paper to dry for several days before placing them in a Mason jar. I filled the jar nearly to the top with the dried dandelions, and then poured pure olive oil over them, topping off the jar completely. After labeling the jar with the date, I placed it in a dark cabinet to sit for four-plus weeks, shaking it every so often to liven up the infusion. After at least four weeks, this oil was ready to be put to use.

You might wonder why in the world I would want to add four weeks to the time it takes to make a batch of soap. And my reasoning is, at least for this batch of infused oil, because of the benefits dandelions can bring to your skin. The dandelion plant is often included in skincare for its believed skin refining, soothing, and anti-aging benefits. It includes vitamins A, C, and E, all of which contain antioxidants that protect our skin against free radical damage and signs of aging by boosting collagen production and reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It also contains magnesium and zinc, which help detoxify skin, as well as anti-inflammatory properties to help calm irritation, making it great for soothing acne-prone skin.

Now I am not suggesting that my Dandelion-Poppyseed soap with make you look 20 years younger and that all of your annoying pimples will just suddenly disappear. But when we have what we most often consider a "weed" growing in vast quantities all around us, and this said "weed" might at least have the potential to benefit our skin in a gentle, natural way, why would I not want to give it a shot?

And, in the meantime, during my extended waiting period, I have some amazingly beautiful jars to gaze upon as I dream up that next batch of soap.