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The key to preserving your homegrown chamomile is: treat it with tender lovin' care. Be kind to your chamomile blossoms, and they'll reward you with warm, soothing cups of tea all year long!
This is a super-simple, 3-step process:
It should take anywhere from 3-4 days to a week for your chamomile to dry, depending on the size of the blossoms, their moisture content (has it rained lately?), and the level of humidity in your drying room.
The beauty of drying chamomile in a food dehydrator is that it dries relatively quickly, thanks to the controlled temperature and constant air flow inside the machine.
How will you know when they're done? Pick up a blossom and feel it. If it's crinkly-crunchy, it's fully dried. If it's still flexible, give your chamomile more time in the dehydrator.
IMPORTANT: Use the lowest heat setting on your dehydrator. Please don't be tempted to crank the temperature up to hasten the process. You want your chamomile to dry - not fry!
This is a risky venture because most ovens - mine included! - don't have a low-enough temperature setting to do the job properly (85°F / 29°C). Too much heat cooks the blossoms. Not a good thing!
If you want to give it a try, here's how:
Your chamomile should be dry in an hour or two.
Wondering if chamomile flowers are too delicate to handle a zap in the nuke-ro-wave? I wondered the same thing. So I gave it a go.
After a little trial and error, I discovered that these little babies are more resilient than they look!!
How to Microwave-Dry Your Chamomile:
Depending on the size of the flower heads and the amount of moisture in them, it'll take anywhere from 5 to 8 zaps for your chamomile to be completely dried.
HINT: After zapping your blossoms 5 or 6 times, take them out of the microwave and let them sit out at room temperature for a half hour. Then rub one of the larger blossoms between your fingers to check for dry-ness by rubbing it between your fingers. When the thickest part of the flower (the yellow part) feels cool, dry and crumbly, your chamomile is ready to go into a jar for storage.
Many "experts" claim that fresh chamomile gets all mushy and loses its flavor when it's frozen. I respectfully disagree.
I freeze chamomile all the time with excellent results.
Dried chamomile keeps its flavor for up to a year if it's stored in an air-tight glass or metal container, away from heat and humidity, and out of direct light.
Frozen chamomile keeps its flavor for about 6 months as long as it was well wrapped for freezing and hasn't been thawed and re-frozen.