Some bitterness

chamomile group shotLast year I wrote about Chamomile and there is no doubt that growing it was easy and very rewarding. I am, however, having a problem with the taste of the infusion. After picking the flowers, I dried them immediately in the hot-press and then transferred them to a jam jar for storage in a dark cupboard. I infuse around five flowers in hot water and leave for two to three minutes but the taste is incredibly bitter, almost to the point of being undrinkable. I’ve tried different brewing techniques: cooler water, less infusion time, fewer flowers but there is no getting away from it!

German chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) is said to be a little sharp but less so than Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile). My herb-growing friends say that theirs has an edge but nothing that a little honey can’t solve. I know that I didn’t pick the blossoms on the day that they opened and maybe the drying or storage conditions weren’t ideal but the bitterness seems disproportional to these lapses.

I’ll try to do better this year but in the mean time, I will console myself with the knowledge that herbalists associate bitterness with joy and energy. It is said that some bitter foods in our diet can support healthy digestion by stimulating saliva and other enzymes, promoting bile production for the digestion of fat and regulating blood sugar levels.

Jim McDonald goes into some detail in a chapter called “Blessed Bitters” (download pdf) and concludes by saying:

We avoid bitterness because its taste seems uncomfortable; it challenges us. And yet when embraced, we find what it offers us is an abundance of medicine, which allows us to escape from a state of stagnation and release those things, both physiological and emotional, that hinder the blossoming of our wellness.”

I will continue to drink my challenging chamomile and await freedom from stagnation 😉

chamomile up close

Tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Some bitterness

  1. The O'Dore says:

    Great photos, love them. What equipment did you use?

    Re. health benefits of chamomile – interesting how any food supposed to be good for our health tastes awful…

    • Breda says:

      Aw. Thank you. The camera is a Canon EOS 450D. These photos were taken with a macro lens last summer. I only started using the camera when I started to blog but one of this years resolutions is to improve and use something other than a macro lens!!

      Isn’t it weird about the benefits of bitter foods? I remember learning in school that our bitterness receptors allowed us to detect foods that were poisonous. This new information about the benefits turns that on its head!

  2. The O'Dore says:

    By the way Breda – Happy Anniversary: 1 year since your first post already! Keep going!

    • Breda says:

      Oh dear. I forgot completely. I should do a recap to mark the occasion or a nostalgic post on how fast they grow up ;-). Thank you for the reminder.