I discovered calendula a couple of years ago. As I started to look into healing herbs and how to incorporate them into our life, calendula was a name that popped up often and for good reason.
Calendula is a beautiful and ancient annual flower with bright orange and yellow daisy or marigold type flowers. As a flower they are bright and cheerful with a nice light fragrance and make excellent cut flowers for your table. They are very cheerful and will self-seed. So, if you plant them in a nice sunny corner and let them go to seed you will likely have more flowers the following year. Or, collect the seeds so you know you have them (and aren’t being eaten by the local birds) and plant them again the next year.
Calendula flowers are also edible. They make a bright addition to summer salads. They have a peppery to bitter taste so you may want to go easy when adding them to recipes. You can also make teas and I’ve read that when steeped in hot water it has a more melon-type flavor, though I have not tried it yet myself.
The bright petals have also been used as a food dye and can add a bright orange tint to homemade cheeses.
We use calendula mostly for its skin soothing properties. I have found as I have aged, my skin is more susceptible in the winter to drying out and I often get dry/itchy patches. Dennis often finds his feet become dry and itchy especially when out all day wearing his heavy boots.
You can dry calendula by picking small bouquets and hanging them upside down. Once dried, you can pick the flower heads and put them in a mason jar until it is about ¾ full. Fill the jar with your favorite oil…I like to use either Olive oil (because it is less expensive) or Almond Oil for its skin conditioning properties. Give your jar a good shake and set it in a sunny window.
I like to let my oils infuse for at least a month. I give them a good shake about once per week. Then I drain them through a fine mesh cheesecloth and store the oil in covered mason jars in a dark place. You oil will last a while but I use mine up pretty quickly.
Salves are easy to make. You need only your infused oils and beeswax. The amount of beeswax you use depends on how hard you want your salve. Start with about 3.5oz of oil to .5oz of beeswax. Heat the oil and beeswax slowly until the beeswax melts. Make sure to stir. Put some of the mixed liquid in a spoon and put it in the freezer for a minute. Take it out and see if the texture is to your liking. You can adjust the beeswax from there. You can also use emulsifying wax if you have allergies to beeswax.
Calendula is good for any type of dry or itchy skin, sore muscles or diaper rash.