Calendula recipes range from healing salves and oils to to tasty culinary dishes. Pick a few recipes to experiment with and you'll quickly see that calendula is more than just a pretty flower. It also has a variety of uses.
What Is Calendula?
Calendula (Calendula officinalis) is often confused with the common marigold plant (Tagetes) and while it is sometimes called "pot marigold," it is really a different plant. There are two common marigolds that are edible (T. tenuifolia and T. lucida), but neither of them offer the medicinal qualities of calendula. Therefore, it is important that you are using the correct plant in your calendula recipes.
To this end, you may want to grow your own. Calendula is easy to grow and it makes a lovely addition to your garden. They also take readily to container gardening. These flowers reseed themselves readily so feel free to use what you need in your recipes or as cut flowers for your home.
Medicinally, calendula has anti-inflammatory effects when it is used topically and it is also a potent antioxidant. Because of its antiviral and antibacterial qualities, it is also useful in treating minor wounds and abrasions.
The petals of calendula are often added to salads as well. Their bright orange color is an attractive contrast to salad green and their slightly bitter flavor compliments the other vegetables. When cooked, the flavor mellows. Calendula can be used much like saffron by adding it to rice and pasta dishes.
Some Calendula Recipes
Calendula adds color and flavor to many dishes and can be included in salads, main course dishes, and even dessert. Mother Earth Living magazine offers recipes for many tasty treats that include calendula. You can use calendula in egg salad, cornbread and even cake.
To use calendula in medicinal recipes, you often must start with an infused oil. This oil can then be blended into creams and salves for topical use.
Calendula Infused Oil
- Wash one cup fresh calendula petals. Chop coarsely and put in a small saucepan.
- Just cover calendula with vegetable or olive oil and heat over very low heat for two hours, stirring occasionally. You only want to warm the petals to release their oils.
- Allow to cool and pour into glass jars. Place in a dark, cool area for a week. Then strain mixture into a new jar. Store in a cool, dark location.
You can also put fresh petals in a jar of oil in the sun for two weeks to create a solar-infused oil. Make sure the jar is tightly covered and strain the oil after those two weeks. For a stronger infusion, add more flowers to strained oil and let sit in the sun for two more weeks. Strain and store.
You can learn more about creating infused oils by reading The Whole Herb by Barbara Pleasant.
- To create a calendula salve, blend four parts infused oil and one part melted bees wax. You may adjust the amount of oil and beeswax to create the consistency you want. According to the Herbal Academy, salves are made by adding one once of beeswax to one cup of infused oil. Heat until the beeswax has melted.
- Pour into a wide jar and cover. This mixture will thicken into a salve that you can use for burns and abrasions. It is also useful for diaper rash and other skin ailments.
Calendula tea is easy to make. Simply put a couple of teaspoons of calendula petals in an infuser and pour a cup of boiling water over it. Allow to steep for at least 10 minutes.
Sweeten if desired and drink for minor digestive irritation or use the tea as a wash for minor wounds.
There are two methods of making soap. 'Cold process' is the term used to describe the traditional method of soap making and this is when oils such as palm or coconut oil are mixed with an alkaline solution and this reaction causes the oils to saponify and form soap. Although this is actually relatively easy to do at home, a new type of soap making known as 'melt and pour' has made making soap at home much more accessible.
Melt and pour soaps are blocks of glycerin soap base that can be melted down in a domestic kitchen, have fragrances and other additives included and then poured into molds to set. Melt and pour soaps come in clear and opaque form and there is now an organic version. These work extremely well with calendula petals. This is very straightforward to do, simply add some petals before pouring the melted soap into molds and stir them in well.
Other Calendula Recipes
There are many other great recipes that use calendula on the Internet and these can provide inspiration for a whole new range of toiletries:
Making Your Own
Making your own herbal products gives you control over the quality of the ingredients used. You can also experiment by adding other herbs to your salves and other products to create the affect you want. Calendula is a versatile, beautiful herb that deserves a place in your garden, your kitchen and your medicine cabinet. With these calendula recipes, you can start incorporating calendula into your life easily.
Keep in mind that because calendula is related to the daisy, allergic reactions are possible. Always discuss your use of herbs with your doctor, especially if you are taking any medications.