I love calendula (Calendula officinalis), otherwise known as pot marigold. It is so easy to grow just leave a few heads to mature and go to seed each year and you will end up with a perennial patch of this golden beauty. I pick the blooms frequently throughout the summer and autumn as this encourages more flowers to come, and I then get to use the flowers in all manner of ways. I scatter the petals over salads and rice dishes, dry the flower heads for tea in winter, and steep them in hot water to make tea when they are fresh. Every year around this time I also collect some for making salve.
Calendula salve has so many uses you just rub it over the affected area as needed. It can help ease and soothe cracked “gardeners” hands, chapped lips, chaffing, nappy rash, varicose veins and sunburn. It also helps promote the healing of cuts, grazes, scratches, ulcers and minor burns. It is also a winner for patches of dry flaky skin.
Here is my step by step guide for making a batch, and don’t worry if like me you make far more than you can use, as this is one remedy everyone seems to enjoy receiving a little pot of alongside the jars of chutney at Christmas time.
First get a clean glass jar and fill it with fresh flower heads. If you let the flowers wilt over night before putting them in the jar they will lose some of their water content which means your salve will last longer.
Next cover the flower heads with oil making sure there are no air bubbles and that they are well covered. I usually use organic sunflower oil for this. It is wise to make a note of how many mls of oil you use as you will need to know later. Put a lid on the jar and leave the flower heads to infuse in the oil for 3 weeks. Everyday give the jar a little shake to keep the medicine alive and to remind yourself to keep thanking the flowers for the medicine they are making for you.
After 3 weeks line a sieve with a piece of muslin and pour the oil flower mixture in (with a pan strategically placed beneath to catch the oil). Once the oil has drained off put the flower heads in the compost and the pan on a low heat. For each 30ml of oil add 2g of grated beeswax. As the oil gently heats the wax will dissolve, stir during this process. Do not allow the oil to get too hot, at the first signs of any bubbles remove from the heat.
Let a drip of the oil drop from your stirring spoon onto a ceramic plate and give a few seconds for it to set. Test it with your finger, if it remains too soft add a little more wax, if it is very hard already add a little more oil. You are aiming for it to be soft enough to melt from the touch of your finger, just like lip balm in a jar. Once you have this consistency pour into jars. Leave the lids off while the mixture cools and sets, I would give this process an hour or two. Then simply add the lids, label what is inside and it is ready to use!
Use with caution if sensitive to the Asteraceae family.
For more simple remedy recipes check out my book, The Medicine Garden, now available as an ebook.