“You can’t just eat chamomile, can you?” – you might be thinking now. But go online to check the word etymology and you will discover that the “chamomile” derived via French and Latin from Greek (khamaimēlon) which means “earth apple”. In Spanish, it’s called manzanilla or “little apple.” Aha, apple!
Ok, no, you cannot munch on a chamomile bouquet (it’s just not that crisp) but you surely can incorporate these beautiful flowers into your diet. Forget the tea though. We all know that century-old recipe that our grandparents offered to us in times of cold weather or in the evenings before going to bed. Let’s not forget the classics, of course, but don’t mind steeping other herbs, spices, flowers along with camomile to dilute its flavour. Go for lavender and honey, mint and lemon, or raspberry jam, cinnamon and clove. Get creative, shine like chamomile!
Not only tea drinkers invite this plant to their parties. Beer brewers would also use it (not necessarily only the flowers though, the whole plant) in the process. Its bitter taste is good for the beer. But we prefer other flower-inspired drinks. It’s frothy, it’s warm and you are only two ingredients away from it. Take ¼ cup of fresh chamomile (or substitute it with dried blossoms) and 1 cup of regular milk (or try plant variants, like cashew, rice, oat). You will need to warm it up a little – raise it to a comfortable temperature and pour over chamomile in a French press. Leave it there to steep for 5 minutes, then lower the plunger down into the pot and return it back up. Repeat the process quickly, you want the mixture to become frothy. Imagine yourself making a chamomile cappuccino. Add sweetener if desired.
A quick internet browsing suggests many beautiful and uncommon ways of working with that floral ingredient. Someone infuses ice cream with chamomile steeped in cream, someone makes green oil with meadow grass, others blend flowers into dry rubs intended for meats and fish, dozens of bartenders blend chamomile into cocktails and tinctures. It can be used as a great ingredient for baking. Try to enjoy blossoms in your salads at first. The easiest? Cucumber-chamomile salad. Just peel 4 cukes and chop them, quarter some radishes, mix everything with a couple of teaspoons (preferably, fresh) of chamomile blossoms. In a separate bowl combine 1 teaspoon of honey, 2 Tbsp of white wine vinegar, 2 Tbsp of rose water, season with salt and pepper and pour over the salad. Add some sage and mint for the extra floral-ness!