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How to Dry, Freeze & Store Fresh Chamomile

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!  

Dried Chamomile BlossomsAir-Dried German Chamomile

How to Dry Chamomile

You'll need:

  •  a handful or more of fresh chamomile; 

  • a sheet of baking parchment, a paper bag, or a clean piece of screen mesh; and

  • a dry, well-ventilated location away from direct sunlight

    OR

  • an at-home food dehydrator


Open-Air Drying Chamomile 

This is a super-simple, 3-step process:

  1. Look through your harvest to be sure it's free of dirt and little tag-a-long critters.

  2. Spread your chamomile flowers evenly, in a single layer, on clean paper or screen mesh.  

  3. Leave the blossoms to dry in a cool, non-humid, well-ventilated  location, away from direct sunlight.
Chamomile dryingChamomile Flowers Spread Out To Dry

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.


Drying Chamomile in a Food Dehydrator

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.

These Blossoms Are Fully Dry After 8 Hours in the Dehydrator


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! 


Oven Drying Chamomile

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:

  • Set your oven on it's lowest-temperature setting. 

  • Spread your fresh blossoms out evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

  • Pop the baking sheet into the oven.

  • Leave the oven door slightly ajar to allow a little air flow.

  • Check the blossoms for done-ness every 15-20 minutes.

Your chamomile should be dry in an hour or two. 

Drying chamomile in a Microwave

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:

  • Spread your freshly picked flower heads evenly on a clean paper towel.

  • Put them in the microwave, and cover with another clean paper towel.

  • Set the microwave to the lowest setting. For most microwaves, it's the  "Defrost" setting.

  • Zap at 30-second intervals, allowing 1-2 minutes between zaps for the chamomile flowers to cool off and release their moisture. 

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.

Freezing Fresh Chamomile

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.

Here's how:

  • Start with a handful of freshly harvested chamomile ...
  • Wrap the flower heads well in aluminum foil. Get as much air out of the foil packet as possible without squishing the flowers. Be sure to label the packet so you know what's in it. 
  • Store the packet in a the coldest part of your freezer. Preferably in the way-back, so it isn't exposed to warm air each time you open the freezer.  

How To Store Your Chamomile

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.
      


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