Thursday, 6 September 2007

Flowers? Not for vase only.

Do you know why flowers and fruits are placed on alters? In Buddhist teachings, I discovered that it is to remind oneself that nothing is permanent in life. Flowers will wilt and fruits will rot if not eaten in due time. I have touched on what can be done with fruits, so, what can do you do with the flowers that will soon wilt?

Try preserving them by microwaving them. For this drying process, you will also need enough silica gels and a microwave safe glass container big enough to hold your collection of flowers. If this interest you, don't go out and buy the silica gels because you may be able to get them free. Look into the health supplement bottles you have. These bottles usually come with a bag of silica gels. Start collecting them by getting your friends, neighbours and relatives into it.

The silica gels should be white but if they are discoloured, this means that there are some moisture present.

Once you have collected enough, just remove the silica gels from the package and put them in a microwave safe glass and heat them for several minutes to dry them out. Keep them in air tight containers when they are not in use.

Here again is the list of things you need:

1) Flowers with stems cut off
2) Silica gels
3) Microwave oven
4) Microwave safe glass container

Preparation for Drying:

1) Cut the stem to just below the flower head.
2) Pour about one to two inches layer of silica gels into the glass container.
3) Place cut flowers, about an inch apart from one another, onto the layer of silica gels.
4) Cover completely the layer of flowers with the rest of the silica gels.
5) Microwave on high for 2 to 5 minutes.
6) Remove from oven and let the glass container cool down for about 30 minutes.
7) Gently remove the silica gels and check out your dried flowers.

Remember not to discard your silica gels as you can reuse them after you have microwaved them to remove moisture. Take down notes of the type of flowers you have tried drying this way and note the timing for each type because some flowers will take a longer time to dry out because of its thickness. You can skip this hassle by getting, "Flower Drying with a Microwave Book" by Titia Joosten. I discovered it at the National Library.

If you do not have a microwave oven, replace microwave oven safe glass with an tight container.

1) Follow through steps 1-4
2) Put air tight lid on.
3) If you are not sure if container is air tight enough, place a duct tape around the cover to seal it further.
4) Check your dried flowers after 1 week.

If you do not have silica gels, you can replace them with sand or borax by putting them into a box or container.

1) Use sand or borax and follow through steps 1-4
2) If you have more flowers to dry, you can create another layer following through steps 2-4.
2) You do not have to seal the box or container
3) Check your dried flowers after 3-4 weeks.
4) To remove sand or borax from your flowers, you can use a paintbrush.

If you are not willing to use your microwave oven and you do not have silica gels, following are other ways to dry flower for you to experiment with:

For blooming flowers,
1) leave stems on and air-dried the flowers upside down.
2) that are delicate and often curl when dried, press them in between 2 heavy books for three or four days.

For buds:
2) Air dry for three or four days

What can you do with the preserved flowers? Let's make this drying process short and sweet and read about that in my next posting.


pat said...

ordinary oven can do or not?

Nancy Poh said...

I have read that it can be used to dry fruits, herbs or flower petals. You can see the process at these links:

Drying Herbs

Drying Fruits and and vegetables

Do a search on "electric" for the process if you do not want to read the whole article.

As you have to set the oven at 140°F to 180°F to dry them for 3 to 4 hours, it is cheaper to use sun power.

Want to build your own drying equipment? Check this out:

Processing of horticultural crops