Wednesday, July 8, 2015

How to make calendula infused olive oil

Some of you who are following me on Instagram and are seeing my garden filled with calendula asked me to teach you how to make calendula-infused oil.  Why should you make calendula-infused oil? It's awesome, that's why.

Here is what Mountain Rose Herbs has to say about it:

"Calendula officinalis, also known as pot marigold or garden marigold, has been used for centuries to heal wounds and skin irritations. Calendula has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, astringent, antifungal, antiviral, and immunostimulant properties making it useful for disinfecting and treating minor wounds, conjunctivitis, cuts, scrapes, chapped or chafed  skin, bruises, burns, athlete’s foot, acne, yeast infections, bee stings, diaper rashes, and other minor irritations and infections of the skin. Plus, it stimulates the production of collagen at wound sites to help minimize scarring and assist with stretch marks. This versatile botanical can be incorporated into baths, creams, compresses, washes, salves, ointments, massage oils, baths, facial steams, tinctures, and teas. It is also gentle enough to use for babies, children, or animals. Internally, gargling with Calendula infused water may ease a sore throat, sores in the mouth, and inflammations in the mouth and throat."

I make goat milk soap with my organically grown calendula and milk from my own goats.  I'm proud to say, people swear by it, and so do I.  So let's get started, and I'll show you how to do it.  It's easy! 

Step 1: 

Either grow the plants from seed, or buy them already grown and dried.  Rose Mountain Herbs sells dried calendula in bulk here.
If you grow your own plants, make sure you purchase the correct seeds.  You want Calendula Officinalis, not other kinds of cultivated marigolds.  I seeded half a flower bed years ago, and it faithfully comes back every year - voluntarily spreading cheer in other places, too.  It wanders and spreads because its seeds are prolific.

Step 2:

When the flowers are gorgeously bright and open, harvest them.  Harvest them every day if you can: the more you cut them, the more they will bud and grow.

I don't use scissors - I squeeze just below the blossom with my thumb and index finger, and the top pops off.  You don't want the green stem to come with it, because then it takes longer to dry.

My honey bees LOOOOOOVE calendula!  So when I'm out there in my harvesting frenzy, I take care not to squeeze an innocent bee and get stung by it.

Calendula during the day, with the pedals nice and open.
Calendula in the evening, when the pedals begin to close in preparation for a good night's sleep.

Step 3:

Dry the flowers.  I do this in my greenhouse, but you could do it on a screen in a warm place in your house.  You could also use a dehydrator.  Make sure the flowers dry completely (especially the fleshy part in the middle), otherwise the moisture could cause trouble later (rancidity, bacteria) when you put them in oil.

I put the flowers on a tray and let the sun in the greenhouse do its magic.  They dry in one or two days when the weather is as hot as it has been this summer!

Once dry, I pick the petals off some of the blossoms so I can put them directly into the soap to add color and texture. 

However, for infusing the dried blossoms in oil, you don't need to go through all the hard work of picking the petals off. 

Step 4:

Get a glass container big enough to fit all your dried blossoms.  I use mason jars for this.  
Stuff the jar full of the dried flowers, push down on them, and stuff some more.
Add olive oil to the jar (or any other oil you would like to use as a carrier oil).
It will bubble a little as it releases air bubbles, which makes you feel like a witch in front of her bubbling cauldron.

Make sure the oil covers all the dried bounty.

Step 5:

Let time and warmth do their magic.  I let the jar sit in a sunny window for four to six weeks.

Some people like to speed up the process and put the oil and flowers into a crock pot set at medium heat and warm everything for five hours.

I prefer the slow, sunny method.  It seems more natural, more alchemical, more potent that way.

Step 6:

Strain the flowers through cheesecloth (or an old pillow case).  Squeeze everything really well to get every bit of the oil out.

Discard the spent flower blossoms into the compost.

Store the oil in a cool place (not the fridge) and use the oil directly on your skin or as a carrier oil in soap.

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  1. This is my first year on our homestead and I am impatiently waiting for my calendula to bloom. I didn't know they would self-seed and thought I would have to reseed as an annual every year (I will be happy if they spread their joy around the garden!)

    I never thought of using the oil for soap-making - what a practical idea!

  2. Yes, it makes extra, extra special soap! Good luck with your calendula - it will bloom soon!

  3. why don't you refrigerate the oil?


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