DIY Calendula and Lavender Salve

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using the magic of marigolds magic to make a simple salve to
soothe dry skin and headaches with the scents of summer

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The early signs of spring are arriving, and with them, daydreams of gardens full of flowers. At our East Orange urban farm lot this Spring, Coeur et Sol will be growing a perennial pollinator garden and it's quickly become one of the most integral parts of this seasons vision. 

Ironically, I was never that interested in flowers, even considering them as wasting space where vegetables could be ripening. Planning rows of sunflowers and babies breath have been another reminder of how much a year and some experience can change an entire outlook. 

Calendula was my gateway into the world of edible and medicinal flower uses, which in turn have sparked a passion for cut flowers that will be pursued this year as part of our community garden. This every day flower has become a surprsing source of endless inspiration (and convenience). 

Calendula, often known as potted marigold, is easily recognized by its vibrant petals ranging from buttery yellow to burnt orange. Daisy like in shape and pattern, the flowers are visually stimulating and strongly scented. If you don't mind the odorous leaves, marigolds are a reliable annual flower that grow quickly and easily, even in poor soil. Since seeds can be sown indoors or out, they are a good flower to work with if you are just getting started with gardening or want to coordinate the bloom to complement a crop.

Calendula's were one of last year's garden experiments that proved to be beautiful, delicious, and full of surprising uses. The edible flowers are attractive to butterflies but not insects so you can expect a healthy bounty of marigolds just 10 weeks after planting. The rigorous but beautiful plant being used throughout the world for floral garlands for major events, perfumes, medicines, and cooking. They are even rumored to have a reliable meteorological intuition, earning them the name "flower of the rains". Some say if the flower opens in the morning, then rain is on the way. Some unique uses for calendula include:

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Some unique uses for calendula include:

  1. Calendula flowers are edible flowers (petals, stems and all) that have earned the nickname "Poor Man's Saffron" for its affordability and distinct flavor. It can be used as a substitute for the fragrant spice when making flavorful dishes like paellas or bouillabaisse. 
  2. Animals also enjoy snacking on the bright blossoms and they make a great fill for livestock feed! Marigolds is often added to chicken fodder to increase the vibrance of egg yolks.
  3. Calendula can be used as an all natural dye. Adding a bit of calendula oil or petals to pasta, oil, mayonnaise and more will give dishes a splash of yellow orange while infusing the dish with all of the nutrient oils of the plant.
    4. Steeping the flowers in tea creates a soothing herbal mixture that can relieve sore throats, cramps and reduce fevers.
    5. If planted in the garden near insect attracting crops, the pungent scent of marigolds will deter pests. Because of their strong odor they make wonderful companion plants and guards for eggplants, tomatoes and peppers. Even mosquitoes are turned off by the strong marigold pollen! Be sure to plant some or keep cuts near entrances and windows throughout the warm seasons. 
    6. Marigold has been used in traditional herbal medicine to treat wounds, skin irritations, headaches, stomach ailments and toothaches.
    7. The high levels of flavonoids in calendula help combat free radicals while enhancing metabolize proteins and collagen. 
    8. Calendula is the only thing on Earth that contains calendic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid with antiseptic properties that have been linked to successful cancer treatments. 

With so many practical and recreational applications, marigolds have quickly become a favorite flower around the farm. Throughout the summer I often would pick the flowers to garnish my salads but found myself with quite a bit of leftovers I set aside to dry and save for a future project.

As we are getting ready to plant our first flower seeds at the lot, I decided to make revisit my dried harvest with a twist on this homemade salve recipe via Herbal Academy. Since I also had dried lavender on hand, I incorporated it as a way to soften the calendula scent while giving the salve anxiety reducing and pain relieving properties. As a farmer often dealing with dry hands, cuts, and even rashes from wild weeds, I wanted to make something medicinal that was still cosmetic.

Ingredients:

  • 3-6 cups pot dried marigold flowers (calendula officinalis)
  • 1 cup dried lavender (Lavandula officinalis)
  • 2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup melted beeswax
  • 40 drops essential oil

You will need:

  • Small to large crockpot or saucepan
  • Double boiler
  • Cheesecloth
  • Clean glass jars and lids

Directions:

1. With the crockpot set to low and prewarmed, place the 3/4 of calendula flowers and olive oil into the pot, setting aside the rest. Secure the lid firmly making sure that you have a good seal. Leave the flowers and oil to infuse for at least 2 hours. Add 3/4 of lavender, setting aside the remainder, and replace crockpot lid. Infuse for at least 1 hour. If you are using a saucepan, make sure that it is a heavy-based saucepan, place on a low heat and allow to barely simmer for 2 hours max, adding the lavender after 1 hour.

2. With ~30 minutes left on the flower infusion, add water to double boiler, place on stove and turn heat to med-high. Add beeswax to double boiler. Watch and stir occasionally until all wax is melted. Leave on stove on low to maintain liquid form. 

3. Remove the crockpot from heat and strain the flowers through cheesecloth into a bowl. Be sure to twist and squeeze the cheesecloth to extract all of the excess oil soaked up by the flowers. Add the melted beeswax to the strained oil. Infuse with essential lavender oil. Stir in remaining calendula and lavender petals. Pour warm liquid into clean jar. 

4. Allow to cool before sealing. Label and date. If kept jarred at room temperature the salve will last for up to three years. Even with only 3 cups of saved flowers and household ingredients this recipe produced nearly 35 oz of salve, which should be at enough to last until next Winter!  

The final product is so smooth and rejuvenating for my skin, I almost can't believe it's natural.Because of the overflow we are offering limited free samples* of our salve. If you're interested in trying out our recipe, get in touch  and we will send you a small jar on us! Quantity is limited to 10 and will be first come first serve.

This is the first of many trials as we begin filling the Coeur et Sol Boutique with homemade goods from our homestead. We are really looking forward to sharing our homestead creations with you! 

With love and growth,

Chelsa

 

*Those with allergies please note the essential oils used in this salve contain traces of components derived from cinnamon