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How to Use Chamomile

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What to do with Chamomile: A Culinary Guide

Chamomile season brings a smile to my face. The feathery green herb with its tiny, picturesque flowers waving in the wind makes it a whimsical plant to watch. While I don’t live in a zone where it thrives for very long, I continue to grow it yearly. Most of our consumption of the herb is in the dried flower format. I’d love to tell you a little about the herb and give you some ideas on how to include it in your cooking.

Growing Chamomile

Chamomile is a lovely addition to any herb garden or flower garden. It not only smells and tastes great, but is a beautiful contrast interposed between other plants. I love this herb for its delicate flowers and soothing aroma. Whether you choose German (Matricaria chamomilla) or Roman (Chamaemelum mobile) varieties, these easy-to-grow herbs thrive in sunny locations with well-drained soil. Sow seeds directly into the garden or start with transplants for quicker results. Once established, plants require minimal maintenance and will reward you with copious blooms throughout their season. Keep in mind it thrives in mild temperatures (~70*F) and will not last when the temps start to creep into the 90s.1

massive field of chamomile with large house and mountains in background with fog

Understanding Chamomile

Chamomile has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for various ailments. It can promote relaxation aid in digestion and help with certain skin ailments.2 In addition to its therapeutic properties, the herb boasts a mild, floral flavor with subtle hints of apple and honey. It can be a used in sweet and savory dishes and is commonly found in teas and beverages.

Health Benefits

  • Promotes relaxation and reduces stress
  • Aids digestion and soothes upset stomachs
  • Supports immune health and reduces inflammation

Varieties of Chamomile

  • German (Matricaria chamomilla): Known for its daisy-like flowers and earthy flavor, this variety is commonly used in herbal teas and medicinal preparations.
  • Roman (Chamaemelum nobile): With its low-growing habit and apple-scented foliage, the Roman variety is often used as a ground cover or in aromatherapy blends.

The German variety has a more intense aroma and flavor, while the Roman variety is milder and sweeter.

How to Use Chamomile in Cooking

close up of dried chamomile flowers for chamomile tea

Flavor Profile and Pairings

Chamomile’s gentle flavor pairs beautifully with various ingredients, adding a subtle floral note to dishes. You can incorporate chamomile into a range of recipes either for flavor or garnish. The herb also pairs well with savory ingredients like chicken, fish, and vegetables like carrots, peas, sweet potatoes, and artichokes.

Complimentary Flavors

Complimentary flavors highlight the herb’s floral and sweet notes.

  • Honey: The natural sweetness of honey compliments the floral undertones of the herb, resulting in a soothing and aromatic combination.
  • Vanilla: Vanilla’s warm and comforting flavor profile can enhance its gentle sweetness, adding depth and richness to desserts and baked goods.
  • Apple: The crisp and refreshing flavor of apple pairs beautifully, creating a light and fruity infusion that’s perfect for teas and beverages.
  • Almond: The nutty and subtly sweet flavor of almonds compliment the soft floral notes, producing a creamy and comforting combination. Think rice pilaf with slivered almonds.
  • Lavender: Lavender’s floral aroma and mild flavor profile match well, creating a soothing and aromatic blend perfect for relaxation and stress relief.
  • Peach: The juicy and sweet flavor of peach pairs well with the sweetness of the herb. The combination is fragrant and perfect for summery desserts and beverages. Infuse the dried herb in a peach syrup to drizzle on a shortcake or over ice cream. Or, mix an iced chamomile tea with frozen peaches for a frosty treat.

Contrasting Flavors

Contrasting flavors can add depth and complexity to your dishes.

  • Citrus: The bright acidity of citrus fruits like lemon or orange balances the subtle sweetness and enhances floral notes.
  • Spices: Warm spices such as cinnamon, ginger, or cardamom can pair well, adding depth and warmth to your dishes. Try these combinations in tea, gin, or even Middle Eastern marinades.
  • Herbs: Fresh herbs like mint or thyme contrast with vibrant flavors and aromatic qualities, creating balance in recipes.
  • Tangy Ingredients: Ingredients like yogurt, vinegar, or sour cream add a tangy contrast to the gentle sweetness, building a well-rounded flavor profile.
  • Savory Ingredients: Incorporating savory elements like garlic, onion, or shallots can create an interesting contrast to the delicate floral notes, resulting in a more complex and flavorful dish.

I like to use chamomile in compound butter, baked goods, broths, and beverages like our homemade gin.

Here are some more ideas to inspire your culinary creations:

Recipe Ideas Using Chamomile

Accouterments

  • Chamomile Infused Honey: Combine flowers with warmed honey for a fragrant and aromatic sweetener. Drizzle the honey over yogurt, oatmeal, or toast. You could also use this honey with bourbon and lemon to make a cocktail.
  • Chamomile Butter: Warm butter and herbal tea together. Strain and store the butter in the refrigerator. Or, use the melted butter immediately to drizzle over scallops, mild white fish, sweet potatoes or peas, or grains.

Savory Infusions

  • Chamomile-scented fish broth: Use the dried flowers to flavor a homemade fish broth or stock. Simmer fish bones, leeks, carrots, celery, lemons, and chamomile flowers. This fragrant broth can be used as a base for soups or risottos. This broth is a fantastic way to make a simple dish beautiful and elegant. Poach halibut or another firm or flaky mild white fish in the infused broth. Serve the fish over sliced cooked purple potatoes using the broth as a sauce. Garnish the dish with fresh flowers.
  • Chamomile-infused rice pilaf with chicken or fish: Cook rice with chamomile tea instead of water. Serve the infused rice alongside grilled or baked chicken breasts or fish fillets. The infused rice will add a unique twist to the dish.

Sweet Treats and Drinks

  • Chamomile-Lemon Shortbread Cookies: Add dried flowers to your favorite shortbread recipe for a delicate floral flavor that pairs beautifully with citrus.
  • Chamomile-Lavender Lemonade: Combine the dried flowers with dried lavender flowers, brew it as a tea, and mix it with agave syrup and fresh lemon juice for a refreshing and aromatic summer beverage.

The Chamomile Honey Butter recipe below is a fast and easy compound butter that you can use on toast, scones, cornbread, biscuits, or drizzled on top of strawberry-topped pancakes. Please let us know in the comments below if you try any of these ideas or have any of your own! We’d love to hear from you. Check out some of our other herb-related posts while you’re here.

up close of chamomile honey butter on wooden chopping block surrounded by chamomile flowers

Chamomile Honey Butter

A fast and easy compound butter that you can use on toast, scones, cornbread, biscuits, or drizzled on top of strawberry-topped pancakes. Creamy and fragrant, this homemade treat is worth having on hand.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: accoutrement, butter, herbs
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Cooling Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 37 minutes
Author: juiceofsevenlemons

Equipment

  • Saucepan
  • storage jar

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 2 tablespoons chamomile flowers dried or fresh
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions

  • In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat.
  • Add the chamomile flowers to the melted butter and steep for 5-10 minutes.
  • Strain the butter through a fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth to remove the chamomile flowers.
  • Stir in the honey and a pinch of salt until well combined.
  • Transfer the chamomile honey butter to a small jar or container and refrigerate until firm.

Notes

  • Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks in the refrigerator.
  • Serve the butter on toast, scones, muffins, or pancakes for a delightful floral twist.
  • Use it to make a floral buttercream frosting.
  • Try it in a hot toddy.
  • Use it as a glaze over grilled peaches.

  1. Rankel, K. (2024, January 26). What Temperature Does My Chamomile Need? Greg. Retrieved April 16, 2024, from https://greg.app/chamomile-temperature/ ↩︎
  2. Srivastava JK, Shankar E, Gupta S. Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future. Mol Med Rep. 2010 Nov 1;3(6):895-901. doi: 10.3892/mmr.2010.377. PMID: 21132119; PMCID: PMC2995283. ↩︎

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