Sunday, August 23, 2015

Calendula Harvest & Salve Recipe

It's calendula harvest time in the garden.  One of my favourite herbs, a general go-to (along with lavender) for all purpose gentle healing benefits - such as skin rashes, baby diaper changes, sun burn, as lipbalm, for  scrapes and minor irritations on the skin.  Calendula is a very easy to grow annual, that readily self-seeds (the seeds are large and obvious, so scatter well in the fall in preparation for next spring's garden).  Calendula officinalis comes in many shades of yellow to orange - but one of my favourite medicinal varieties is the Resina, which has a high resin content making it perfect for oils, salves and tinctures.  Calendula is also an edible flower, the petals are lovely in salads or for garnishing cakes.
Here is a very simple calendula salve recipe to try for your own first aid cupboard:

Simple Calendula Salve

You will need:
3 cups olive oil, in which 6 oz wilted (or 4 oz dried) calendula petals have been infused
3 oz shaved pure beeswax (or more)
3 oz cocoa butter (or more)
4 tsp vit E oil
1/2 tsp each pure essential oils lavender (at time of bottling)

1) Make herbal oil infusion by adding 6 oz calendula petals to the 3 cups olive oil in a clean dry glass mason jar with tight fitting lid.  It's absolutely important that jar and lid are dry so herbal oil does not risk becoming moldy.  Steep in a sunny window for 4-6 weeks shaking jar every few days (this is called a solar infusion).  Or, for a quicker method, steep in a crock pot on lowest setting for about 12 hours.

2) Strain oil, compost herbs and reserve the infused herbal oil.  It should be a darker richer colour than when you started.

3) Add oil to stainless steel saucepan, warm slowly on low heat.  Add beeswax and cocoa butter and vitamin E oil.  Stir gently until all is melted and fully combined.

4) Take off heat, and test with a spoon for proper consistency (i.e. drip a few drops of the hot salve onto metal spoon and when it cools you know what the thickness will be like).  Add more oil to soften salve, or more beeswax to firm it up as needed.

5) Add pure essential oil (we suggest lavender for added healing benefit).  Stir well, then pour into your containers and let firm up.  It will be nice and firm when salve is cooled.  Finished salve can be stored in the fridge (for a really firm salve) or at room temperature.  It's best to use dark glass containers or keep containers out of direct sunlight to preserve salve.  Salve should keep at least 1-2 years if stored properly.

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