This year I wanted to interplant vegetables with herbs and flowers in an attempt to attract beneficial insects as well as deter harmful ones. In all that I read throughout the years, I knew marigolds were a solution. As I started looking into essential oils and hydrosols, I came across calendula AKA pot marigold. Calendula and marigold are basically first cousins, but calendula seems to rock harder at life.
Calendula has been used in the culinary world to simply just eat. Want a bright pop of yellow or orange in a salad? Throw in a flower. If you were inclined to eat it, eat the petals, it’s okay. Here’s a couple of recipes you may want to try.
Marigold Cheese Soup
- ¼ cup butter
- 3 Tbsp minced marigold petals
- ½ cup each minced celery and green peppers
- 1 cup milk
- ¾ cup each minced onions and carrots
- 1 cup cream
- 4 Tbsp flour
- 2 Tbsp sherry
- 1 quart chicken stock chopped chives or parsley
- 3 cups grated Cheddar cheese
- additional petals salt and pepper
Melt butter and saute celery, green peppers, onions, and carrots for 12 minutes. Add flour, constantly stirring, and slowly add stock, stirring constantly until slightly thickened. Lower heat and slowly add cheese, stirring gently. Add salt, pepper, marigold petals, milk, cream, and sherry. Heat but do not boil. Garnish with finely chopped chives or parsley and a single marigold petal. Pour into a tureen for serving and place watercress and marigold flowers around the tureen. (The Forgotten Art of Flower Cookery)
Turkey Calendula Roll-Ups
- 8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
- 2 Tbsp low-fat mayonnaise
- 1 Tbsp horseradish
- 2-3 tsp lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp diced sweet pickle relish
- 1 tart apple, peeled, cored, and finely diced
- 1 cup calendula petals
- 4 12-inch tortillas
- 8 oz wafer-thin turkey slices or ham, if desired
- Lettuce leaves, for garnish
- Calendula petals for garnish
In a bowl, blend the cream cheese with the mayonnaise, horseradish, lemon juice, and pickle relish. Gently stir in apple and calendula petals. With a spatula spread the mixture evenly over each tortilla. Cover spread with a single layer of turkey (or ham) slices. Roll up the filled tortilla, jelly-roll style. Cut immediately, or wrap tightly in plastic wrap and chill until serving. To serve, cut to desired thickness, and arrange on a serving platter over a bed of lettuce leaves. Sprinkle with additional calendula petals. (Edible Flowers: A Kitchen Companion)
Descriptions I’ve read about the taste include “bitter” and “tangy”. Calendula AKA pot marigold AKA Poor Man’s Saffron, is not used for its nutritional value, but for its taste. It’s called “pot marigold” because it was the flower people threw into pots to season stews and the like. It’s called “Poor Man’s Saffron” because the taste is sharp and resembles saffron, and its very accessible.
It’s also used as a natural food colorant. It can be added to butter and cheese (yellow and orange food), and it’s also used in chicken feed to help give the egg yolks a deeper orange/yellow color. And although this isn’t culinary related, the flowers can be used as a fabric dye as well.
Everything. It’s used for everything. Eyes, teeth, wounds, cancer, aches and pains.
Calendula Tea and/or Hydrosol Uses
If you have:
- Acne (wash)
- An itchy scalp (pour, soak, and massage)
- A sore throat (gargle)
- Bruises or sprains (soak your body)
- Diaper rash (homemade wipes)
- Fever (break it by drinking it)
- Foot/fingernail/toenail fungus (soak)
- Itchy eyes (rinse) (filter before you rinse)
- Itchy bug bite (spritz)
- Mouth sores/ulcers/inflammation (swish)
- Skin abrasions (spritz)
- Skin inflammation/rashes (soak rag and use as a compress)
- Stomach ulcers (drink)
You can also make a healing salve with beeswax for much of the above listed ailments, plus burns (including the razor kind). Calendula essential oil can be used for eczema and psoriasis, even ringworm and jock itch. Oh, and this can also be used on your pets. It even has anti-cancer properties. If you have something wrong with you, chances are calendula can help you. However, a word of warning, it’s said to trigger menstruation, so if you’re pregnant or nursing, you should stay away.
If you’re not pregnant or nursing, and have problematic skin, calendula has anti-inflammatory properties and soothes the irritation. Here’s a recipe.
Calendula and Bran Cleansing Scrub for Acne
- 4 1/2 Tbsp calendula water
- 2 Tbsp bran
- 1 Tbsp sea salt
Stir cooled calendula water and bran thoroughly. Add the salt and mix (with a fork) until you have a paste. If the mixture is too stiff, add a little more calendula water. Apply the scrub and massage your skin for four to five minutes, concentrating on your problem areas. Rinse with tepid water, then with cool water, and pat dry.
Do you have any uses for calendula? If so, I’d love to hear them.
To be continued…