Preserving Herbs: Drying Fresh Chamomile/Manzanilla

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chamomile

Mami, me duele el estomagito.  Relájate mientras te traigo una tasita de manzanilla, vale?

Chamomile… manzanilla.  An herb I grew up with without ever knowing it’s English name until college.

Growing up, whenever I had an upset stomach or my mami wanted me to relax and calm down after a hard cry, she’d always make me a cup of warm chamomile tea.

She told me it would help me to feel and sleep better.

Where did she learn this from?  Her own mother.

drying_chamomile

The use of dried chamomile flowers dates back centuries.  Its popularity grew during the Middle Ages as people started to use it medicinally for a variety of ailments.

Today, it’s mostly used in teas throughout Europe and the United States as research has proven chamomile to have anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-allergenic and sedative properties.

The plant’s healing properties come from its daisy like flowers, which contain volatile oils as well as flavonoids and other therapeutic substances.

Specifically Chamomile can be used to…

  • relieve upset stomach
  • promote relaxation
  • relieve stress
  • as a salve, for wounds
  • as a vapor to to alleviate cold symptoms or asthma
  • treat eye inflammation and infection.
  • relieve teething problems, and colic in children
  • relieve allergies
  • aid in digestion when taken as a tea after meals
  • reduce menstrual cramps
  • relieve morning sickness during pregnancy
  • speed healing of skin ulcers, wounds, or burns
  • treat gastritis and ulcerative colitis
  • be used as a wash or compress for skin problems and inflammations
  • Treat diverticular disease, irritable bowel problems and various gastrointestinal complaints
  • soothe skin rashes (including eczema), minor burns and sunburn
  • heal mouth sores and prevent gum disease. A chamomile mouthwash may help soothe mouth inflammations and keep gums healthy

I’ve had first hand experience using chamomile for it’s medicinal properties, including using moistened tea bags to heal my son’s pink eye.

Not only is chamomile excellent to heal and promote wellness, but also for its culinary uses.

I’ve used it to infuse honey, make jam, ice-cream, panna cotta and refreshing iced tea.  I can’t wait to share some of these recipes soon as chamomile can create flavors that are gentle, rich, silky and smooth.

I’m completely enamored with chamomile and an added benefit is that it’s so easy to grow at home.

collage

There are mainly two varieties of chamomile.  German and Roman.

Both contain essential oils and anti-oxidants that help the body relax and recover from physical fatigue.

However, German chamomile is most often grown for its medicinal purposes as its oil is stronger.

Chamomile grows best in a sunny location. Chamomile will self propogate itself year after year as it drops its tiny seeds.

Choose a location where you don’t mind it taking off or plant in a container.

Drying Fresh Chamomile/Manzanilla

zekie_boy

Drying fresh chamomile is a breeze and can be done in one of two ways.

1. Pick the flower heads

As your plants grow, you can pick the flower heads by running your fingers through the plants taking the flowers as you sweep across.  Of course, you can pick them one by one as well.

Sift through your flower heads ensuring you rid of any bugs and place in a pan, uncovered, in a cool location to dry.

drying_in_pan

Once the flowers are dry, save in a sealed container, such as a mason jar, free of moisture and store in a cool location.

2. Pick Bouquets

This is my favorite way to dry herbs, especially chamomile.  I pick bouquets and hang them upside down in a cool location to dry.

hanging_to_dry

It’s aesthetically pleasing and the scent it leaves while drying is unbelievable.

I had the batch above drying in my basement.  Every time my son would go downstairs to play he would yell from below, “Mama, it smells beautiful down here.”

It really does leave a lovely scent.

Once the flowers are dry, snip the flower heads and save in a sealed container, such as a mason jar, free of moisture and store in a cool location.

Keep

If kept in a cool and dry location, your preserved chamomile will keep for a year.

Do you grow or preserve herbs?  Tell me, what is your favorite herb to use medicinally or for culinary uses?

 

36 Responses to "Preserving Herbs: Drying Fresh Chamomile/Manzanilla"
  1. Emi says:

    Do you grow yours in a pot? I have a large pot waiting for something to be planted.

  2. IAMSNWFLAKE says:

    Thank you! I knew about its properties and different uses but I was unaware that it was so easy to grow, dry and preserve at home. I’ll be waiting for the recipes.

  3. Great post! Not a huge fan of chamomile flavor, but this post really makes me want to grow next year :)

  4. My youngest memories are when Peter Rabbit had a cup after he was a very bad boy! It too was one of my favorites in college. Now I use it for it’s wonderfully calming affects and just because I love the taste!

  5. OK, now that we have our chickens enclosed (finally!) I can think about planting something–I had no idea chamomile was so pretty! Definitely on my “to try” list.

  6. Emi, I have some in a pot which I harvested a really good amount, and in all of my plots in the community garden. It seeds itself and grows everywhere. I do control it.

  7. amelia says:

    I love this Diana! Both my nonnas (grannies) would make camomilla con miele for me when I was a bit down/sick/in need of TLC. Thanks for the wonderful lesson and reminder. Lovely and delicate photos.

  8. Amelia Pane Schaffner says:

    Diana: fantastic remedy (great with a touch of honey). Do you grow it from seed? if so, when is teh best time of year to plant?

  9. Amelia, I did grow it from seed. I planted three years ago in early Spring and now I have some every year as it self seeds itself and grows like CRAZY! I have to keep thinning it out every year and give so much away, lol! Pick a good spot for it where you wouldn’t mind it to take off. Some people even use it as ground cover.

  10. Great post! I like chamomile as well…especially at night. I think my favorite herb is mint. Whenever we have an upset stomach, it works to calm and ease the pain very quickly.

  11. Here I’ve only ever known the English name and never knew the translation of manzanilla!

    I grow and dry chamomile. The last time I picked it was really wet so I used the dehydrator. I have another crop ready to dry again and may try your hanging method.

  12. We love our manzanilla tea! We have it every night before bed. All of us. We also enjoy it as a sorbet… really brings out a great apple-like flavor! Will be in my book ;o) I also love hanging it to dry in my kitchen… love the smell!!

  13. Hey, what do you do with the greens? People here also use it in their tea. I’ve tried both, seems the green gives a slight bitter taste, but not bad.

  14. Amelia says:

    Diana: fantastic: I can’t wait to plant my seeds…

  15. Deana says:

    Manzanilla tea and oil is helpful to human. Manzanilla oil is used when baby is having stomach ache. While tea can make as ice tea bar like this summer season in which children love to spin in their mouth.
    ____

  16. Tammy says:

    I just harvested a bunch of, what I believe is German Chamomile. I ate a couple flowers and WOW! It almost numbed my tongue! I don’t think it has a fruity (apple) taste at all. It seems bitter to me. Do I possibly have the wrong stuff? It looks just like the pictures on Google images of German Chamomile. Is that the normal taste?

    • Diana Bauman says:

      Tammy, Roman chamomile grows low to the ground. German will grow 2′ to 3′ tall. Either way, they’re both used herbally and medicinally; however, the German chamomile is more potent. Hope that helps :D

  17. Joan says:

    Thanks for the information!

    This is my first year growing chamomile — although I noticed that it also grows wild in my neighborhood.

    I grow a dozen or so herbs but my favorite is lemon verbena. It dries easily and makes a wonderful tea – either on its own, or blended with peppermint or a green tea. It’s fabulous mixed with genmai cha, or even green jasmine tree.

    I always grow French lavender, thyme, mint and basil. This year: Thai, lemon, and Genovese basil as well as peppermint, orange mint, and chocolate mint. The chocolate mint makes a great ice cream!

  18. sahana says:

    I wanted to know if only the petals are used in making tea or the pollen too?

    I am planning to grow them this spring. Why do people say that it can be bitter. Is there a specific seed that I need to buy?

  19. Caitlyn says:

    This is such a beautiful and inspiring website! We love to learn and see people grow and enjoy herbs! Thank you for documenting and sharing these beautiful facts, stories and photos! Much Love! – Caitlyn
    http://www.wisdomnectartea.com – Share Tea, Be Happy!

  20. margarita says:

    hello! im glad i stumbled apon your site! Very informative. I have only one question, how long does it typically take to dry chamomile? Few days? A week? This is my first time starting herb garden, i have lots to learn this summer!

    • Diana Bauman says:

      Margarita, It takes about a week but I like to leave it about a week longer just to make sure it’s dried all the way. Any bit of moisture can ruin the batch once closed up in a jar.

  21. Melissa says:

    Is the smell of chamomile calming? I’m wondering because I’d like to put dried chamomile in my kids pillows.

  22. tara says:

    This is my first year growing chamomile, so far I’ve just made fresh tea. I figured it would be easy to dry, but had to check, thank you.
    My favorite herb so far is my lemon balm, it seems to work very well for anxiety. I have quite a few herbs growing, sometimes I just throw em all together for a green tea or water infusion. My favorite tea I’ve made so far is, ginger, lemon balm, peppermint, chocolate peppermint, chamomile, honey, and lemon. Maybe a little touch of sugar. It’s wonderful, sweet, tangy, calming, yet energizing… it would be great if I could figure out growing ginger, that stuff is amazing.
    When we go camping, I throw a bunch of my herbs, mostly lemon balm, in a bottle of water and we use it for topicals for bug bites, burns, and other owies. My kids love that they can go out and eat my garden. Lately we’ve been learning about the wonderful, edible & medicinal weeds. If they want to take over my garden, might as well find a use for them! Like the sheep sorrel that just wont qiut.

  23. Robin says:

    I was first introduced to manzanilla when I was 14 and visiting the summers in Mexico City where my mother lived. It soothed the cramps in my stomach from turista, which always plagued me after about two weeks. It was a delight to have te con the merieda at night with pan dulce. The tea came in tea bags al-
    ready dried, as I buy it here. Just the scent of it relaxes me when I have migraine. Sometimes here in the Chicago winters I make my tea and cover up with the same blanket and drift softly away to those sun filled days and cool nights that sparkled in the city. I miss it so.
    I do have a question, though. Behind my garage grow a whole lot of plants that look just like our Miracle Plant. This past weekend at the Saturday market, a booth was selling fresh manzanilla. How can I tell the difference between the two, they look so much alike?. I bought two bunches that I am drying. I would be so blessed to have my own plants. And not poison my precious nietecitos.
    Thank you, Robin

  24. Melissa Walker says:

    Love this post! This is my first year growing chamomile. I started it from seed in a flower bed right by our house. It took 3 tries but I finally got it going & its going like crazy now. Couple of questions: can you dry the flowers in a dehydrator or is it better to not heat them? And the flower bed where mine is growing is heavily mulched (we put it down after the chamomile was well established). Will it still be able to reseed itself through the mulch??

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