Blog Party: Oat Straw Infusion for Summer

We’ve had a cold, damp year so far, so I originally didn’t feel up to participating in a blog party about cooling herbs! But this morning while I was planting in the shade, I remembered an experience that seemed to fit nicely with the topic. It’s brief and simple, the best kind of story for a beautiful summer day . . . I really want to get back outside!

The summer that the hubster and I got married was a scorcher. I was working full time, with a long commute in a car that had no air conditioner, and I loathed my job. We were trying to grow food, but struggling because we were both gone so much. We had two kids at home. I was having uncomfortable health issues. And I had decided we should have a reception so our friends and family could celebrate with us, since we’d gone to a judge to get married privately. My parents would be  visiting us for the first time, so I was freaking out about the house, and we ended up doing a lot of painting and reorganizing to prepare for their visit.

It quickly became apparent to me that I am not, by nature, an event planner; planning our very simple reception drove me over the edge with stress, even though the hubster was very helpful. One particularly hot day, I had several errands to run, including buying groceries. By the time I made it home in my non-air conditioned car, I was exhausted, overheated, and on the verge of hysteria–and the hubster wasn’t there to help me unload all the bags, and he hadn’t let me know he’d be gone, and there was no note . . . it was 100 degrees in the shade, and the food couldn’t wait to be put away. I carted all the heavy bags inside and sat down on the cool linoleum of the kitchen for my meltdown.

Thank the goddess there was a quart of oat straw infusion waiting for me, already strained! I opened it up and drank the entire quart in a matter of minutes, and the relief was immediate. Not only did I feel cooler from drinking a quart of cold liquid, but my exhaustion was eased and all the stress I’d been feeling immediately seemed manageable. And I was able to put the groceries away without suffering a nervous breakdown.

Oat straw is an excellent friend when you’re all hot and bothered, and not in a good way. And an infusion is such SIMPLE medicine, no special tools required. I’m sure everyone who might read this knows how to make one, but just in case you don’t, I’ll share my method.

I make a full strength infusion by placing 1 ounce of dried herb (by weight) in a glass mason jar. I pour boiling water over the herb all the way to the top and put the cap on the jar. I come back for it after at least 4 hours, but most often I make an infusion before bed and strain it when I get up in the morning. That’s it!

Of course, normally I prefer my infusions somewhat sweetened. In the winter it’s easy, because I want to drink them warm, so I just reheat them very gently on top of the stove and add some honey. But in the summer, I usually want my infusion cold, over ice. So, I’ll either add honey to some hot water until it dissoves, then pour the lot in to my jar of cool infusion and shake to combine, OR I’ll make a small cup of very strong mint tea and add the honey to that. Then I add the sweetened mint tea to my infusion, and wow is it delicious.

Happy summer everyone.

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7 thoughts on “Blog Party: Oat Straw Infusion for Summer

  1. Lovely post – could you please enlighten those of us who aren’t familiar with mason jars – how many fluid ounces do they hold and how much fresh herb would equate to 1oz dried (I normally relate 1tsp dried to 1 tablespoon fresh but I don’t know how much a tsp of dried herb weighs.

    I’m experimenting with macerations at the moment. I pick a large bunch non-flowering nettles, place them in a large washing up bowl and cover with water overnight. Makes a wonderful summer drink. Last Friday I added cleavers and red clover to the brew – you could definitely taste the difference!

  2. Sarah, mason jars are the jars used for canning foods in, you can buy them at the grocery store. They come in pint size and quart size. A quart is about 4 cups or 32 fluid ounces.

    The volume of dried herb to one ounce of weight is going to vary depending on the herb, how finely it is cut, etc. A general rule of thumb is approximately 1 cup, but I find red clover is much lighter and it takes more to make an ounce.

    You can read more about infusion making here:
    http://www.susunweed.com/How_to_make_Infusions.htm

    Enjoy!

  3. Hi simplewitch

    Thanks for the information and links. Here in the UK we don’t use the term canning, we bottle fruit using Kilner jars. Kilner is the name of the person who owned the factory which designed the original jars which could be sealed using rubber rings and a glass/metal screwtop lid. I suspect Mr Mason had a similar factory in the US.

    It’s fascinating how Susun has developed her own system of infusion and is teaching others to do the same. I have several of her books which I recommend to various people, her revised menapause book being my favourite.

    I think of an infusion with hot water as a tea, but we only infuse for ten minutes with boiling water. If you let it infuse for longer, you get larger amounts of tannins, which can be overwhelming and not as tasty. If I want to get the mineral content out of nettles, then I use an overnight cold maceration and this works on both fresh and dried herbs. The cold nettle maceration tastes wonderful (and doesn’t use any power!). I actually prefer it to fresh nettle tea, which is best when nettles first emerge in the spring. We always make it during the first workshop I run in March as it’s just about the only fresh herb growing in sufficient quantities at that time.

  4. oh my god! cold infused nettles! That is an amazing and wonderfully beautiful idea! I wonder if I could drink cold overnight infused nettles without getting a headache??
    I’m so trying that!

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