Calendula extract is an excellent way to utilize all of the powerful healing properties that are contained within this blessed botanical.
The best part is, making calendula extract at home is about as simple a project as it gets — it literally almost makes itself. And to prepare the extract we will follow the basic herbal tincture-making steps using calendula flowers we grow ourselves:
The Making of Calendula Extract
In order to get started…we must first harvest our Calendula flowers and petals.
It’s best to pick them at their peak — and pick them frequently. Begin harvesting the Calendula as soon as the first flowers open fully and then continue throughout the spring and summer season.
Trust me when I say…you can’t pick these often enough, the more flowers you pick, the more flowers your plant will produce. Usually – in ideal growing conditions and peak season – this means you should be harvesting every 3-4 days.
Harvest mid-day, when the flowers and foliage are dry, and after the dew from the morning has evaporated. Then cut the stems, as close to the flower head as possible.
Remember: You really can’t over pick these flowers! Harvesting the beautiful flower heads forces the plant to send out more buds. In fact, under harvesting will cause the flower heads to go to seed and stop producing quickly.
Just as we preserve (i.e. can, dehydrate, freeze) and store common foodstuffs — we must learn to preserve medicinal herbs and flowers. Drying, tincturing, and freezing are all effective methods of preserving herbs and flowers.
And although drying calendula is the most common way to preserve the medicinal properties of the flower for use past the growing season — and vital for use when making an oil infusion — making calendula extract does not require drying of the flowers…in fact fresh is best in this case.
- fresh-picked calendula flowers
- clean glass jar
- 100 proof vodka
***Click here to read my tips on herbal tincturing.
- Upon harvesting the flowers, bring them indoors — away from direct sunlight.
- Do NOT wash the flower heads.
- Pack your glass jar full of flower heads.
- Pour vodka to cover plant material entirely. (Note: Check the jar a day or two after setting the tincture and top off if needed.)
- Place in a warm (not hot), sunny location for at least 14 days. Shake the jar daily. (Note: After 14 days or so, you can strain off the liquid extract, and you are ready for action! OR you can strain off the liquid extract, pack your jar full of fresh calendula, pour the extract back over the flowers — adding more vodka to cover the plant material entirely — and steep for another 14 days. This cycle can be repeated as often as desired for maximum potency. I will generally triple-infuse all of my herbal extracts…this taking 6 weeks to get the final product)
- Label, date, and list the contents on a dark glass storage jar for long-term storage of the extract. Medicinal extracts/tinctures prepared in this manner really do last and keep working for many, many years.
- To use: Use in recipes for lotions, creams, toners, astringents, nourishing body sprays, etc. at a rate of 1-3%.
Note: You may also use organic or wild-crafted dried calendula flowers to make this extract if fresh isn’t available to you. Instead you will fill the glass jar 1/3 full of dried plant material and proceed. I recommend purchasing dried calendula flowers here…
Where to Purchase Medicinal-Quality Calendula Seed?
Are you growing calendula flowers this season? How are you using them?