Now you have a bag or basket full of flowers; what’s next? First, get out those little scissors you used to thin out your seedlings, cut off any remaining stem pieces, and throw those into the compost. The only thing you want in your chamomile tea is chamomile blossoms.
Don’t rinse your flowers; they could develop mold. You’re now at the point where you want to spread your flowers out and let them dry. You have several options to do this.
The simplest solution is a cut-off brown paper bag. You can also spread them out in a natural woven basket. Or you can spread them out on a screen. The trick here is to ensure air circulation so the flowers dry evenly.
Now, you can buy special drying screens; if you’re a die-hard herb grower, you could do that. You could also build your own. See more about that in our Essential Tools section.
Spread your chamomile flowers evenly in a single layer on your chosen drying medium, and leave them in a cool, dry spot with good ventilation and no direct sunlight. Depending on your conditions, it can take three to four days or one to two weeks for the flowers to dry completely. You’ll know they’re ready for tea time when they crumble when you give them a little squeeze.
Other drying methods
It is possible to dry your chamomile in a dehydrator, in the oven, or even in the microwave. But those methods require either an extra investment of money, time, or attention. People have been air drying chamomile for thousands of years. You can probably wait a few days, right?
Once your chamomile flowers are thoroughly dried, store them in an airtight tea tin or a jar with tight-fitting lid.
There are some reports of freezing fresh chamomile successfully. The suggestion is to wrap your fresh blossoms in aluminum foil, squeeze out as much air as you can without squishing the flowers, and putting it in the coldest part of your freezer.
Dried chamomile will retain its flavor for up to a year if you keep it in an air-tight container (glass or metal), keep it away from heat and humidity, and out of direct light.
Frozen chamomile blossoms will reportedly keep for up to six months if they’re wrapped well. Once thawed, do not refreeze.
What’s your favorite way to dry your chamomile? Have you tried using a dehydrator? Have you made your own drying screen or do you use the paper bag method? What’s your favorite storage container—tea tin, jar, or something else? Let us know how you dry and store your chamomile.