Monday, January 16, 2012

The Kudzu Experiment: Prepwork

Dried Kudzu
Here's the second installment of my kudzu experiment!

My kudzu leaves have been drying for a few (quite a few!) weeks, and they were ready to grind once they became brittle to the touch. A few people I know will grind herbs and other things using a blender or magic bullet, but I prefer to do it with a mortar and pestle.

Grinding the old fashion way!
The leaves were quite easy to grind. I would only work on one leaf at a time, or I had trouble with spilling. Also, when grinding the leaves, be very careful to remove all of the stems, because they will not grind up in the mortar and pestle.
Oh! And the kudzu smelled lovely as it was being ground up... similar to the smell of unbrewed green tea.

Once I had the leaves ground up into a powder, I decided that the best way to experiment with the kudzu would be to use it in soap in two ways: for one batch, I will add the powder straight to the soap batter and for the second batch, I will use kudzu-infused olive oil.

Ground Kudzu
To infuse oil with kudzu (or any herb you wish), you will need:
-A glass jar with a tight fitting lid (mason jars work fantastic!)
-A carrier oil (I prefer to use olive oil)
-A n unsealed tea bag
-About 3-4 tsp of your herb
-A pot (You'll need this to do a stovetop infusion)

You'll start by pouring your herbs into the tea bag and placing the bag in your jar. Pour your carrier oil over top of the bag, and seal up the jar.
After that, you can infuse your oil one of two ways. The traditional method is done using natural sunlight. You will need to place your jar in a window that gets lots of warm sunlight. The infusion will take about 6 weeks to completely finish.
Infusing: Stove Top Method

The second way is to do a stovetop infusion. You will place your jar in a pot with water, and place it on a low heat for a period of between 6 and 8 hours. The infusion will be sped up by the heat. Make sure to check the pot periodically and add water as it evaporates. Make sure to never leave your stove unattended, or leave the house with your stove on! Safety first! Your jar will be hot to the touch when it is finished, so take care when handling. Make sure to let your oil cool before using it.
Kudzu-Infused Olive Oil

I will be making my two kudzu soaps soon, so stay tuned to see how they turn out!

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