Saturday, November 10, 2012

Drinking Marigolds

We've had a frost or two, and the nights are chilly enough that most of my flowers have gone to rest, but the Marigolds still glow in the afternoon and morning sun. I have an affinity for these flowers, love the smell of them, the moist coolness of the blooms. They're more than just a pretty flower, though. When made into a tea, cream, salve or tincture, they're called Calendula and have many health benefits. I picked some blooms Thursday and brought them in to dehydrate for tea.
I also picked some Stevia leaves to dry with them, which I've tried dehydrating and then grinding, but the powder tends to float in the tea, so this time I'm leaving the leaves whole, and maybe a trace of their sweetness will develop along with the Marigold tea. I washed them in vinegar water, mostly to drown any tiny bugs living in the blooms, let them drain, and then spread them on a cookie sheet. We have some dehydrators, but when possible, I'd rather use my oven. I put these in for most of the day on 170 degrees, the lowest my oven will go.
They're not 100% dehydrated, but I figure the longer they "cook" the more nutrients are lost, so I'm planning to keep them in the freezer. You can also shred them up, but they're so much prettier this way. You can't say many commercially prepared herbal teas are pretty. Adding hot water to a couple of blooms and a Stevia leaf causes them the blossom all over again. They taste like sweet grasses.....but that's really what all herbal teas taste like to me. I could add coconut milk or lemon or agave nectar, but I usually don't.
Drinking herbal teas isn't an instant cure-all. It's a quiet, patient process that builds on itself. Calendula is known for its ability to heal minor skin infections, cuts, and bruises, as well as a host of other benefits. The component of the Calendula flower that gives it its bright orange color is beta-carotene. The flowers also contain essential oils and sugars that are known to stimulate the immune system, making it ideal to drink when you think you are on the verge of a cold, or to speed healing. As an anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial agent, it can be quite helpful and is used for ear infections, eye infections, and to relieve sore throats. It's also helpful in treating digestive disorders. When used in skin care, it has been shown to increase the production of collagen in the body, leading to a more youthful appearance. So, I just thought I would share my pretty tea with you. I plan to dehydrate more blooms before the first hard freeze kills my glowing Marigolds.