The unpretentious Calendula is often a great addition to the garden. However, many people grow this annual plant of the Asteraceae family not only for decoration but also to be able to prepare medicinal ingredients for winter. Harvesting Calendula is not difficult but requires you to follow a few rules to help preserve the medicinal properties of this herb.
HOW TO HARVEST CALENDULA AND WHEN TO HARVEST IT
Collect the buds of Calendula for medical and cosmetic purposes. However, you can also find Calendula with added leaves and stems in pharmacies’ collections.
This is done mainly to save raw materials since it is the inflorescence that is most healing. To get good quality raw material at home, it is best to collect flowers.
The raw material is harvested during the flowering period of the plant. calendula has a fairly long flowering period, lasting from mid-June to September. It is important to select sturdy inflorescences that have just flowered.
Gather when the weather is dry and sunny, preferably before noon. This is because the dew will be completely gone even for plants in the shade at this time.
Cut off the flower buds with sharp scissors, or cut them off by hand. It is important not to tear off the base of the flower to avoid damaging the buds. Contaminated and damaged flowers should not be taken, as it is forbidden to wash them before drying.
Calendula should be collected in a wide-bottomed container, and when the container is filled to a maximum of 1.6-2inch (4-5cm), the basket is sent to dry. In terms of timing, drying should begin no later than 4 hours after harvesting.
HOW TO DRY CALENDULA
It is best to dry naturally, placing the inflorescence on a clean sheet of paper or on a lattice in an ordinary layer. It is strictly forbidden to use newspaper sheets for bedding, as the printing ink is quite toxic.
The drying area must be warm, dry, and well protected from the sun. Attention also needs to be paid to the good ventilation of the room. Aloft and porch are convenient for drying herb collections.
During the first three days, the buds need to be turned once a day. This phase can be skipped if drying is done on a grid or net.
The total air-drying time is about 1.5 weeks.
If weather conditions do not allow you to dry Calendula naturally, a modern fruit and vegetable dryer can help you. Place the Calendula on the dryer shelf and turn the unit on to “herb drying” mode with a heating temperature of 104°F (40°C).
If your dryer does not have a thermostat and it is drying at a temperature much higher than this, then drying the quality of the ingredients and maximizing the preservation of useful substances will not work.
It is also highly undesirable to use a gas stove because this device does not allow you to strictly control the temperature regime.
How to tell if it is ready
Calendula, when dried and squeezed, will break into coarse crumbs. However, if rubbing the herb with your fingers causes it to crumble into powder, this is an indication that the buds have been overdried.
HOW TO STORE CALENDULA
Dry medicinal ingredients should be stored in a dry, preferably cool, room. The container should reliably protect the herb from sunlight. This can be a box of cardboard or a dark glass jar.
Calendula can be stored for up to 1 year with all its useful properties, provided it is stored correctly.