Something which is exercising my curiosity is the possibility of making salves with animal fats. Apparently, lard is the best medium for complete absorption of herbs through the skin. I've always wanted to try it and was encouraged last year when some lard I'd strained off our 10lb Boxing Day roast stayed good for around 11 months in the larder. Unfortunately I just left it there and didn't do anything constructive with it!
There was a superb blog posting about rendering lard by an American herbwife called plantainpatch, but she has recently ditched her blog, so I can't link to it any more.
Zoe Hawes, down in Bath, has said she is going to use lard in her salves made from her home grown pigs, but I don't know how she has got on.
Today I was wandering in blog land and came across this NZ blogster who has also posted about making herbal salves from animal fats. http://www.myherbcorner.com/wiki/index.php?title=Salve
The lady is originally from Germany and has given her great grandmother's reference book "Taschenbuch der Heilpflanzen, 13. Auflage, 1913,Verlag von J.F. Schreiber, Esslingen und Muenchen, Seite 17".
I thought our historical bloodhounds might like to see if this was ever translated into English because the methods given are not something I have ever come across.
a) Melt 10 parts lard with 3 parts beeswax on low heat and let cool again. Now stir in 2 parts herb oil. This keeps for more then a year.
b) Mix 1 tsp fresh juiced herb with 2 tsp pig lard. Melt and keep on low heat until all liquid is dissolved. Now strain the warm liquid and let cool in a small jar. Store up to half a year.
c) Grind 1 part dried herb in a mortar. Then give it to 5 parts lard and melt it on low heat. Add 1-2 parts beeswax if you wish.
She also gives a recipe for using butter, which must be close to the Ayuvedic method of using ghee for many preparations.
"Mix 4-6 g fresh plant juice (eg: calendula, watercress...) with 30 g unsalted butter.
Good thing with herb butter is, that you can eat it if you don't need the whole for wounds or other treatments,
Ref: Taschenbuch der Heilpflanzen, 13. Auflage, 1913,Verlag von J.F. Schreiber, Esslingen und Muenchen, Seite 17 "
She also cites a recipe from a German Time Life magazine which uses tincture, oil and salve mixed altogether which looks very fiddly and time-consuming on first appearance, so I won't be attempting it for a while.
I wondered if anyone here had tried making salves with lard and how they had been received.