Iperico, or St. John’s wort is an indigenous plant here in Tuscany, but it has spread to every part of the world. Its name derives from the family to which it belongs, the Hypericaceae, and it grows from sea level up to 1600 metres.
It can flower from April to August/September, depending on latitude and altitude, but traditionally it is harvested at the summer solstice, June 21st, or around the festival of San Giovanni, June 23.
On this magical night, the dew, the so-called guazza di San Giovanni, imparts particular powers to the flowers. But in truth, that will make your oil go rancid, water is in fact the enemy of oil and its conservation over time, which is why collecting dry flowers for the preparation of your oleolite is definitely favourable. The best time is mid-morning, when the sun has already dried the night’s humidity but the flowers have not yet baked under the midday sun. It’s also fine to harvest when it’s warmer, but certainly not at night or at dawn, when the plant is humid.
To make the oleolite, the simplest thing is to cut the flowering tops with your fingers or scissors, selecting the most beautiful ones taking care to leave the closed buds on the plant, so that they continue to flower for the benefit of pollinators and the plant’s offspring.
Harvest the flowers directly in to the jar in order to regulate the quantity (you should fill the jar to about ¾ of its capacity) and then cover the flowers with Olive Oil. In an ideal world, you should then expose the jar to direct sunlight for about a month. After a few days, you will see the oil turn an intense ruby red, which is quite breathtaking.
During the phase of maceration, it’s a good idea to stir the flowers every other day if you can to guarantee the best results. And then after this period, set up a filter with a fine sieve and a gauze cloth – you’re looking to obtain a perfectly clear oil with no residue.
Olio dell’Iperico can be used for multiple curative purposes. We’ve only ever used it for external cures such as for cuts, mosquito bites, anti-inflammatory, antisceptic, muscle pain etc. but of course it has many additional magical properties.