Food and drink, flowers, perfume, holidays, photos, these all evoke memories of some kind. Remembering tasks that my parents and I would carry out seasonally on our farm as a little girl are memories that maybe somewhat muted now, but certainly never forgotten. On my father’s birthday last week, I took my children over to visit him. It was a perfect hazy Wednesday morning and as soon as we arrived dad shouted out ‘Who wants to go and pick some fresh camomile to take home’? The children weren’t overly excited but I just couldn’t wait. I grabbed mum’s wicker basket and ran out to the meadow like a possessed and over excited child and yes, I was wearing heels as I do every day.
Camomile holds incredible memories so close to my heart. It was believed to have healing and easing qualities in our home and Nonna Carmela (grandmother) who is 90 years old this August would always make me a fresh warm tiny mug of camomile when I had a poorly tummy. The aroma and the small thick rimmed Pyrex mug with brown and orange flowers is still prevalent in my mind, even as I write this for you today. As outdoorsy children my sister Daniela and I would pick these edible daisies and thread smaller ones into our hair, whimsically picking the camomile with our parents but remembering we were fairies from the farm foremost.
At the time, I didn’t realise how lucky we were growing up on a farm, where now, I long to return as often as I can, to the verdant greenery, fresh air and defending silence that now houses the distant murmuring of the wind turbines that sit on a hill a few miles away. ….So, around the top lake where my dad has a few trout and roach, it’s surrounded by what we call the wild flower meadow. In-between the wild flowers an abundance of camomile can be found. Every year the area seems to expand and I get a little happier as this means my take home bounty will be even bigger. So we pick, tie, dry, brew and drink as follows…..
Pick the fresh camomile stems and flowers to about 20cm in length.
Fold the stems up to the flowers and back down again.
Take a bendy not brittle stem and wrap it around the bunch and secure. You could use string if preffered.
Snip off any long remaining stems.
Allow the bunches to dry on a clean tray in an ambient room for about 6 weeks, turning them every few days to ensure they dry evenly.
Once ready, boil a couple of bunches of pre-dried camomile in water for about 20 minutes, strain through a fine sieve and drink as required adding a little sugar.