I love Calendulas. They flower all summer long, self seeding into every corner of my flower and vegetable beds, with wonderful shades of yellow and orange that last well into early winter. Even after two hard, killing frosts last weekend their bright flowers still light up a dull November morning while I do some chores around the garden. Calendulas, otherwise known as Pot Marigolds, have long been valued for their medicinal, culinary and cosmetic properties. With anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antibacterial and antifungal properties, Calendula makes an excellent choice for adding to ointments for soothing irritated, chapped skin, insect bites and sunburn. All of which a gardener suffers from at some time during the year!
When I make hand cream I like to add Comfrey. Since the Middle Ages, Comfrey has been known as a healing agent for fractures and is often called Knitbone for that reason. The leaves can be made into poultices, compresses and ointments to be applied to bruises and sore muscles. Another common complaint for gardeners!!
To make your jar of hand cream, collect together a bowl of calendula flowers and some stems of comfrey leaves. Strip the petals from the flowers, shred the comfrey leaves and mix together in a glass bowl. Add enough olive oil to cover the mixture and place over a pan of water. Warm the oil gently, then turn off the heat and leave to steep for 24 hours. Strain the petals from the infusion.Put the infusion back in the bowl with the grated beeswax and place over a pan of simmering water, whisking until the wax has dissolved. I am lucky to have a supply of beeswax from our own bees, but otherwise you need to find a source of wax that you know is pure and not contaminated with the toxic chemicals used in commercial beekeeping. When the beeswax has melted completely, stir vigorously until all the oil is incorporated, take off the heat and continue beating until the ointment begins to cool down, becoming thicker. Pour into your jar and allow to set.
Recipe: to make one 4oz pot of hand cream 2 tbsp. grated beeswax 4 tbsp. infusion: made from 1 oz fresh calendula petals, one large handful of comfrey leaves, enough olive oil to cover