When To Pick Chamomile (Harvesting and Drying)

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If you’re a fan of drinking chamomile tea, you’ll definitely want to try harvesting your own chamomile for a homemade brew. Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) is a small and sweet-smelling flower that is easy to grow in the garden.

Harvesting chamomile

From garnishes to tea, it has many suitable uses in the kitchen. But, how do you know when it’s ready to be harvested for tea and other culinary purposes?

When to pick chamomile flowers

Chamomile flowers

It’s best to pick your chamomile on a dry day in the late morning or early afternoon when morning dew is no longer present. The flowers should be completely open and flat. If the flowers are a little bit past their prime, you can still harvest and dry them for tea.

Tip: It’s important to stay on top of harvesting chamomile so that the plant will continue to push out new blooms.

How to pick chamomile flowers

How to harvest chamomile

​Harvesting chamomile is time consuming, but very easy. I prefer to use my hands as it’s very relaxing and a great way to spend some time in the garden. There are purpose-built tools out there to help speed up this process (like this chamomile rake), but it’s really not necessary. 

To pick your chamomile flowers, simply pinch off the flower head at the base of the bloom. It’s okay if a little bit of stem gets plucked – you can always remove it later. And, the stems are edible (though they don’t taste as good as the rest of the flower).

How to dry chamomile for tea

Chamomile dried

If you are planning on using your fresh chamomile for tea, you’ll want to dry out the flowers first. You can use fresh chamomile for tea as well, but the flavor is a bit different. And, you’ll need to use more of the flowers for a flavorful cup.

  • Drying chamomile in the sun: To sun-dry, spread your chamomile flowers in a single layer on a dish towel or a purpose-built drying rack or screen. Be sure the flowers are in a dry environment away from humidity to avoid mold or rot. This process can take several weeks, depending on your climate.
  • Drying chamomile with a food dehydrator: Because our summers can be very humid, I dry out chamomile in our food dehydrator. Use the lowest setting possible (usually around 85-90 degrees Fahrenheit). The drying process in the dehydrator typically takes at least 24 hours, but often longer. Check the chamomile every 8 hours or so to assess.

Tip: Be sure your chamomile is completely dry, almost crumbly before storing in a jar. You can also store it in a paper bag to allow any remaining moisture to escape. Try cutting one of the flower heads in half if you’re not sure if they’re dry.

There is no need to wash your chamomile before drying. As long as you are not using any inedible sprays in the garden, I prefer to keep the flowers as dry as possible after picking. 

How much dried chamomile to use for tea

For homemade tea, I like to use one heaping tablespoon of dried chamomile per 8-10oz of hot water. After trying your own homemade chamomile tea, you’ll sleep like a baby and never go back to store-bought again! You can use tea bags, or a tea steeper meant for fresh herbs.

Chamomile is a real treat to grow in the garden. It smells incredible, attracts beneficial insects and pollinators, and it will reward you with blooms all season long. As long as you keep harvesting the flowers, they’ll just keep coming back!

It’s a wonderful addition to herb gardens or your raised garden bed. The daisy-like flowers are also a nice add-on to flower arrangements. If you’re growing chamomile in your garden this year, leave us a comment and let us know how you like to use it.

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