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Drying chamomile.

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Usually, people pick just the flowers.

And that is a waste of good herb: the stems of chamomile (Matricaria recutita) are perfectly useful, if weaker than the yellow flower.

It's easiest to just pull up a bunch of whole plants, roots and all - they're annuals which lean on one another, and their taproots are really pretty small.

[image:15717 align=left hspace=1]Pic: Drying chamomile. Discard any flowers and stems with aphids, pick off snails, discard flowers with spiders, and check for other infestations.

If your plants are in full flower they're about 1/2 m tall (perhaps 1.5'). The lower half is mostly yellow leaf, if your bunch was pulled up in a lushly growing spot. Break the stems one by one where the leaf turns green, and spread the top bits on a bit of old bedsheet laid on top of a thick layer of newspapers.

Let dry in a shady airy spot for 7-10 days.

You can't dry chamomile in bundles hanging down; the yellow part of the flowers is the strongest part of chamomile, and the yellow bits fall off as the flowers dry.
You can't dry chamomile in a dehydrator, either, as those flowers are small enough to fall through the mesh of the dehydrator trays.

The usual test of dry herb, "stems break, they don't bend", doesn't work with chamomile, as the stems are brittle and break when fresh, too. Wait for the leaf to crumble. When that happens, use scissors and cut your herb into 2-3 cm bits (about 1") and put the lot into tight glass jars, to be kept in a dark cupboard until use. And remember to label the jar: "Chamomile, July 2005, Helsinki". Not because you would forget that this is chamomile (nothing else looks like dried chamomile), but because you would forget the date and place if you didn't label things. BTDTGTT.

Your dried chamomile should be green, bright yellow and shiny white, not the greyish yellow mess you get when you buy chamomile in the health food store.

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Related entry: Chamomile

Comments

I have found that the sweater dryer contraption you use to dry your hand washed sweaters makes a great herb dryer. Mine is made of a fine mesh and I can stack mine 3 high. It works great for the Chamomile because the mesh is too fine for the flowers to fall through. I just put it in an out of the way room until dry or sometimes I stack it on my country kitchen. The ones I have are 2 1/2 ft by 2 1/2 ft. and will hold quite a bit of herbs when stacked on top of each other. I also have a friend who lives in the city and uses a sheet tied to the head rests in her car during the summer. She closes the windows and her herbs are dry in a couple of hours. It is a kind of a solar oven. I though it was a rather unique solution for someone who does not have a lot of land and has to abide by city rules which frown on sheets spread out in the yard LOL. It just goes to show you that herb lovers will find a way to grow and use their herbs no matter what their living arrangement are. I live in the country so I can do what I want ... I just prefer the bug free drying in the house.

Adriane

100% paper air filters from the home improvement store work great and are cheap. NO FIBERGLASS though!!!!!

Stackable sweater dryers sound neat, but I couldn't find suppliers who'd either be in or ship to Europe.

Here are a few companies that carry them. I found one in UK but the dryer is different. The British one is rathe large. I like it! Wonder If I can get one here in Illinois. I go my stackable one at Wal-Mart.

From Britain.
Mine is like this one.



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