Sunday, February 17, 2013

Calendula Salve (part I)

The marigold, or calendula, blooms about once a month, so regularly that it got its Latin name from the word "calendar." The brilliant yellow-orange flowers get their color from carotenes (including beta carotene). Their petals used to be used to color cheese, and according to Eleanour Sinclair Rohde's Old English Herbals, they were also used to dye hair! But I'm especially interested in the petals' ability to act as an anti-inflammatory agent in lotions and salves. That makes it a great thing to have around for dry skin in winter.

I received two Calendula seedlings at the Get Growing Festival in Harvard Square and harvested lots of flowers over the summer. Now I'm infusing olive oil so I can make calendula salve.

I started with a bunch of dried calendula blossoms. (You can grow your own or buy them from Mountain Rose Herbs.) I plucked the flowers after they had opened, when they were at their brightest. It was a little painful to kills those beauties, but worth it. I set them out to dry for a day or so on a paper towel, then stuck them in a paper bag to protect them from the light.


I bought organic olive oil to infuse with the calendula. Since this stuff is supposed to soothe dry winter skin, best to choose something with no risk of chemicals. I pulled the petals off of the flowers and put them in a clean mason jar....

...then poured in the olive oil, about one inch above the original level of calendula petals. (They floated so I had to estimate.) 
 Now they'll sit in the sun for six weeks. If you can't wait that long for the complete recipe, check out Mountain Rose Herbs' recipes for calendula salve, lip balm, and more.

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