Calendula are generally admired for their cheerful daisy-like flowers but are a great ally in the kitchen and medicine cabinet as well as the garden. Medicinally, calendula is most often used in salves, creams and ointments. The petals are valued for their anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties and can be useful for dry skin, sunburns, cuts and insect bites.
Calendula flowers are also edible and are a really fun and beautiful ingredient in the kitchen. You can place whole flowers on cheese, veggie or fruit platters or simply pluck the petals and scatter them in green salads, rice dishes, over fruit or mixed into softened butter. Calendula work beautifully as garnishes for desserts, cocktails or iced drinks. The possibilities are endless as the petals are very mild in taste. Come to think of it, they would look really pretty in ice cream too.
If you are thinking of planting calendula they are beautiful as a veggie garden border and also work to keep away pests while attracting beneficial insects like bees and butterflies.
Calendula flowers are most commonly orange and yellow but you can find varieties in combinations of apricots and burgundies like these beautiful ones from Cropthorne Farm. If you have calendula growing in your garden, simply pick them when you are ready to use them. If you are buying them at a farm or market make sure they are organically grown. I have found they keep best in the fridge in a small glass of water set somewhere safe as to not get knocked over. As an added bonus you will smile every time you open the fridge and see their cheerful little faces.