What Is Chamomile – Harvest Chamomile – How To Harvest – What Part – Drying And Storing Chamomile – Using Dried Chamomile – Chamomile Tea – Fresh vs Dried – Preserving Chamomile
Chamomile is a great and easy to grow flower that is great for making a variety of different things. Tea being one of our absolute favorites. It’s easy to grow and will quickly self seeds and provide you with many years of harvest and enjoyment.
But being able to harvest the plant properly and then enjoying the fruit of the labor is very important. Luckily you will get a lot of chamomile growing if you plant a small amount so there’s plenty of harvest to go around.
What Is Chamomile
Chamomile is a very common flower that can be found both wild but also cultivated. It has a rather distinct look to it. With a dark green stalk that is very thin. The flower petals are brightly whiet and a yellow center on the flower.
There are many varieties of chamomile out there and the biggest difference between them is normally the size of them. Some can grow almost a couple feet tall while others smaller. The flavor and aroma are normally the same though across the board.
The chamomile plant is a very hardy flower that can manage in most climates. It doesn’t need a lot of water but will prefer a place where there is a lot of sunlight. That way it has the chance to develop a lot of flowers during the season.
When Can You Harvest Chamomile
The best time to harvest chamomile will usually be during the summer season. The plant will grow and develop new flowers all the time basically, so harvesting constantly during the summer is the best approach. That way we can pick the flowers while they are at their peak.
Try and just pick the flowers with the petals and the small bud in the middle. This is the most flavorful part of the chamomile. After being picked you can dry them either in the oven or in a dehydrator. This should be done at the lowest possible setting to not lose any of the flavor of the plant.
After harvesting chamomile you should also water the soil slightly to give the plant an easier time growing new flowers eventually again.
How To Harvest Chamomile
Harvesting chamomile is actually really easy. There are a few different things we want to look out for to not harm the plant. Firstly is to only pick the flowers that have actually developed properly. That means the petals are bright white and fully spread. If the buds are still sort of closed up then it’s better to just wait instead a bit longer. They will only really get more aromatic.
Take a sharp scissor when harvesting the chamomile. Clip of the flowers and leave as much stalk on the plant as possible. That way we increase the chance that there will be more flowers growing out afterwards.
Take and water the soil a little bit around the plant to give it an easier time to once again start growing and blooming.
What Part Of Chamomile Can You Harvest
The most aromatic and flavourful part of the chamomile will be the flowers. These are what we use when we make either tea or any form of infusion. They are intensely aromatic and very nice to use for a number of things.
As for the rest of the plant, it doesn’t really contain that much nutrition or flavor for that matter. Instead it’s better to just let that part start decomposing at the end of the season and turn back into soil.
How To Dry And Store Chamomile
There are basically two different ways to dry and preserve chamomile for later use. The most important thing is to treat the chamomile very gently so we aren’t wasting any flavor of it. Lower temperatures are very important to keep the aroma of the flower.
Air Drying Chamomile
Air drying the chamomile is our favorite method. It is the one that takes the longest, but it also helps keep the most amount of flavor out of any method. We are basically harvesting the chamomile with some of the stalk attached to the flower.
We then tie these stalks into a bundle and let them air dry slowly for a few weeks. They can stay out like this and when we want to use them we just clip off the flower.
Oven Drying Chamomile
Oven drying chamomile is the better option when we need to preserve a large amount of chamomile. We do this by taking the buds of the chamomile with the petals attached and lay them flat on a tray.
Dry them in the oven at the lowest possible setting. It will probably take between 6 – 8 hours at least. Afterwards you can store them in an air-tight container to keep moisture out and increase the longevity of the plant. They will stay good like this for at least 1 – 2 years or so.
What To Use Dried Chamomile For
There are a number of applications for using dried chamomile. But there is a clear winner for us at least. That is to make tea from it. We do this by pouring some boiling water over some chamomile flowers and letting that infuse for a few minutes. We then strain it.
We sometimes add some honey to the infusion as well to have an even more floral and aromatic beverage. It’s noted that chamomile tea is very good for the body. It’s rich in antioxidants which helps prevent headaches and fevers.
How To Make Chamomile Tea
Making chamomile tea is very simple. If you have already dried and preserved your chamomile flowers then you are already halfway there. Take about a spoonful of the flower buds and pour some boiling water over. No more water than you want to drink basically.
Let that infuse for about 3 minutes. Strain away the buds and enjoy your newly brewed tea. We like to add some honey to the drink as well for a little sweetness. Honey is a much better option than adding just sugar.
Fresh vs Dried Chamomile
Fresh and dried chamomile are rather different. The dried one is a lot better for making infusions like teas for example. The fresh chamomile is better for salads and eating instead.
There is also a difference in the amount of nutrition in them too. The fresh chamomile will have a richer concentration of antioxidants and vitamins. The dried chamomile will also have these nutrients but not as many as some are lost when we dry the plant. Fresh chamomile is therefore a little bit better at helping keep headaches and fevers away then the dried one.
Preserving chamomile is very simple. Our favorite method is to air dry the flowers and use them whenever we want to. But there are other ways of preserving the flavor of the plant without drying it.
You could make a syrup flavored with the flowers. We basically boil about 50 % sugar and 50 % water and infuse some of the flowers in this. They will give off a really nice and floral flavor to the syrup since we are heating the buds.
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