These bright yellow and orange flowers are a familiar sight in cottage and country gardens. The plant is a native of southern Europe but flourishes in cool, temperate climates. The petals have a pungent, spicy flavor and the leaves have a bitter aftertaste. It is used more for medicinal than culinary purposes. This hardy annual grows to a height of about 9-20 inches and has a long flowering period.
Seeds may be sown directly in the bed, border, or flower box throughout spring and summer. The plant prefers a rich, light soil and a sunny location. Add compost to the soil if necessary, then sidedress with additional compost when the plants are well established. Water deeply during dry spells. It will seed itself readily.
The petals, with their slight aromatic bitterness are used in fish and meat soups, rice dishes, salads, and as a coloring for cheese and butter. The whole flower was used as a garnish in medieval times.
2 quarts marigolds (use Calendula officinalis only)
1 gallon boiling water
1 campden tablet, crushed (sterilizer)
thinly pared peel and juice of 3 tangerines or other soft citrus fruit
thinly pared peel and juice of 1 lemon
5-1/2 cups sugar
1-1/4 cups white raisins, finely chopped
Wash the flowers and put into a large container. Add the boiling water and stir in the Campden tablet. Leave for 24 hours.
Draw off 1 cup of the liquid, add citrus peel and heat to just on the point of boiling. Add the sugar, stirring until dissolved. Cool to body temperature, then pour back into the original container. Add raisins, citrus juice, yeast, and nutrient. Cover and leave 5 days to ferment, stirring twice each day.
Strain through a double thickness of muslin. Pour into a fermenting jar fitted with a fermentation lock and leave to continue fermenting. Rack the wine as it begins to clear.
When completely clear, store in a cool, dark, dry place for six months to mature.
Calendula heals wounds as well as internal and external ulcers. It is an antiseptic, and improves blood flow to the affected area. As an antifungal agent, it can be used to treat athlete’s foot, ringworm, and candida. The tincture applied neat to cold sores encourages healing. Calendula cream is good for acne and diaper rash. An infusion is good for digestion and relieves colitis and symptoms of menopause.
An infusion of the petals can be used as a rinse to lighten and brighten hair. The petals also make a nourishing cream for the skin. Pot marigold makes an attractive cut flower and can be grown in the vegetable garden to help with insect control.
Creamy Marigold Cleanser
4 tablespoons olive or almond oil
2 tablespoons dried pot marigold flowers
few drops of violet, orange blossom or rose water
Warm the oil in a bowl placed over a saucepan of hot water. Stir in the dried flowers and continue to heat gently for 30 minutes. Remove from heat, allow to cool, and stir in the flower water.