Exploring the medicinal qualities of the calendula flower!
Calendula has definitely become a favourite of mine, bringing with it an abundance of warm yellow and orange sunshine colours to the garden.. and my meals! My interest to promote growing, cooking and eating what's available to us seasonally and locally applies not only to the fruit and veg we can grow here in the UK, but also to the myriad of herbs and flowers available to us. Especially as I continue to discover the amazing medicinal properties that so many plants around me have to offer (of which so many of us don't know!) - and how simple it is for us to utilise them! Calendula in particular is quick to grow and is easy to cultivate from seed, plus it helps to keep many common garden bugs at bay! With this in mind, my first experiments with calendula have been to go through the process of growing and caring for the flowers and subsequently harvesting and preparing oils and tinctures to share with my family and friends. With Biodynamic Gardening being a particular interest of mine, I've worked with the flowers in such a way that is in harmony with the biodynamic rhythms. Below you'll find the benefits to both the oil and tincture preparations and the ways in which I went about creating them.
CALENDULA OIL BENEFITS
Calendula is known for working its magic by promoting cell repair and growth, coupled with its natural anti-septic, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. It can be beneficial for dry skin, cracks, eczema, acne, scrapes, minor burns and sunburns, rashes, chapped lips, and bug bites. It helps to reduce inflammation and promotes wound healing.
HOW TO MAKE CALENDULA INFUSED OIL
Fill a glass jar 2/3 of the way full with dried calendula flowers (organically grown). If you're using fresh calendula, wilt for 12 hours to remove most of the moisture (too much moisture will cause the oil to go rancid) before adding to the jar.
Pour organic olive oil* into the jar, making sure to cover the flowers by at least one inch with the oil so they will have space to expand.
Stir well and cap the jar tightly.
Place the jar in a warm, sunny windowsill and shake once or more daily.
After 4 to 6 weeks, strain the herbs out using muslin cloth.
Pour the infused oil into airtight sterilised glass bottles and store in a cool, dark place.
The oil should last up to one year
*olive oil is thought to be one of the best as it is less likely to go rancid, but good alternatives are coconut, jojoba, sunflower and almond oils.
CALENDULA TINCTURE BENEFITS
The tincture supports the lymphatic system and encourages a healthy immune response, making for a valuable autumn and winter ally, calendula is mildly bitter and supports liver function, which in turn encourages healthy skin, healthy hormone balance, and the digestive system of the body.
HOW TO MAKE CALENDULA TINCTURE
Gather together a collection of sterilised airtight jars
For fresh flowers: fill 2/3 of a jar with chopped or ground fresh flowers. For dried flowers: fill 1/2 a jar with finely chopped dried flowers
Fill the rest of the jar with organic vodka
Let the mixture infuse in a cool dark place for 6 - 8 weeks, shaking the jars daily
When happy with the flavour, strain through a muslin, squeezing out every last drop of liquid to ensure you've got all the herb compound
Transfer to sterilised amber bottles and store in a refrigerator
Can be kept for up to one year
Can use medicinally, diluted in tea or soft drinks.
The same process can be applied to preparing other flower and herbal infusions and tinctures. A book I have found particularly useful as an intro into growing and caring for your own herbs and flowers, and knowing what to do with them both in terms of their culinary uses and home remedies, has been 'Grow your own Botanicals' by Cinead McTernan.
Grown using biodynamic methods at Fferm Y Felin, Felin Uchaf.