Saturday, July 5, 2014

Making Plantain Salve

A friend shared a recipe with me for salve (or ointment, balm) made with plantain leaves. The recipe comes from MommyPotamus blog, here. I loved the idea of making a salve but wondered if I'd have difficulty finding plantain in Oriental. Homeowners here are, after all, pretty tidy with their lawns. Much spraying, mowing, edging, and so forth occurs.
So I took the doggies for a morning walk and ... boom! A few yards down the street, on the side by a ditch, there were plantain leaves -- plenty of 'em!
Watch the MommyPotamus video at her site for good instruction about identifying plantain. It's not hard; you've seen this stuff all your life. The leave looks like this:
 And the backside looks like this, with strong ribs running along:
 I picked quite a few, glad to see the seed stalks that would ensure more baby plantains will be coming down the pike. I wiped them off well in my kitchen, and sure enough I noticed the little strings at the base where I'd broken off the leaves.
 I know I'm weird, but there's something wonderful and slightly thrilling, knowing that weeds growing along the roadside have healing, medicinal qualities, if only we'd identify them. Dandelions! Plantain! Weeds to most, but desirable to me.
 I laid the leaves out on a cookie sheet to dry just a bit. It's the oils in the leaves that you want to infuse into other oils while warm, so you don't want the leaves to become dry like autumn leaves, just clean and healthy.
I chopped them all, leaves and stems, and put them in a large Mason jar, one quart size.
Then I placed the jar outside in full sun. It's 90ยบ today, plenty hot enough to warm the oils and infuse the plantain, and it saves me the money of heating this jar either in my crockpot or on the stove in water.
I used half olive oil and half coconut oil because I feel both oils have good qualities for skin.
The infusion in the heat should continue for 12-24 hours. I'll probably bring the jar in this evening but return it to full sun tomorrow.
 I may finish it off on the stovetop as well, for a bit.
 Did you notice the seashell windchime hanging in the background above? I did make one of them. It was harder than I thought. I didn't feel it looked lovely enough to sell, but I like it and hung it by the front door. The shells made a light clatter when they jingle, and I like that too.
I'll give you an update on the plantain salve when it's finished!
And ... now it's Thursday, the plaintain oil is infused and  put through a sieve to remove the leaves, and I've made the salve. It's a pale gray/green color from the leaves.
 The recipe, which produced almost 2 cups of oil, gave me four tins for selling at market, plus a small tub for my use. Each tub holds 1/3 - 1/2 cup of salve. In addition to olive oil and plantain, the ingredients include beeswax, and rosemary and tea tree essential oils.
 Here the salve is still liquid, from being melted in the microwave to incorporate the beeswax. Soon it will cool and firm and have that pale green color and creamy texture.
Here's the salve after it's set up:
 It's a soft, gloopy kind of ointment, good for rubbing in, not hard nor firm. It smells of tea tree and rosemary.

I'll take my tub along with me on vacation next week and use it while I'm gone to see how well it works. I'm bound to get a few stings, bites, scrapes and other skin afflictions while I'm traveling. Then I'll know if it's good enough for my customers.


  1. Oh, I loved this! I've seen similar preparations in catalogues but have never seen a recipe. I may have to try this!

    English teacher trivia: Shakespeare references plantain in "Romeo and Juliet." (I surely wish I could use underlines in this title. Having to use quotation marks this way makes me a little nuts.)

  2. Very fun! Many years ago, when my kiddos were young and I was homeschooling, I developed a deep curiosity about the medicinal qualities of the "weeds" on our property. I did a lot of identifying, picking and trying things. Glad you're able to find plants to feed your passion even in the midst of a cultivated society, lol!

  3. Cool! I'm impressed with your salve-making abilities!

  4. That was interesting to read and I would love to dip my finger in to feel it and get a sniff.

  5. You go girl! Love that you found the plantain and dove right in. Please let us know how it works.

  6. Kezzie's MummykinsFebruary 5, 2016 at 7:49 AM

    That looks really interesting. I make a balm from homegrown marigolds (calendula) and use coconut oil, olive, shea butter and beeswax plus lavender, tea tree, chamomile and marjoram oils. It makes a really good antiseptic balm for cuts and grazes. I must try the plantain. After all, it grows like weeds.


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