You've all seen a flower so perfect in form, color, and texture that you wish you could keep it forever. With a dehydrator, it now can become a reality.
Preserve garden and natural favorites for attractive dried flower arrangements, Christmas and holiday decorations, party favors, place cards and corsages. Help your children dry specimens for their science class. Many lovely flowers' foliage, flowering grasses, seedheads, cones and non-flowering plants may be dried simply by placing on drying trays and drying until no moisture is evident. This is wonderful for those of us who are too busy to experiment with other techniques, and also for the beginner who has not attempted preserving flowers before. Quite interesting arrangements can be made with these dried materials.
Materials suitable for drying by this method are bracts, cultivated and wild grasses, seedheads, foliage, and everlasting flowers.
For flowers with petals, leaves, ferns, fungi, and some varieties of mosses, the best way to preserve them is to use a desiccant powder. A desiccant is a substance which absorbs moisture. It speeds the drying process, especially when used in a dehydrator, preserving the vibrant colors and delicate structure of the flower. The longer the drying process, the more colors will fade. Using a desiccant in your dehydrator will allow flowers to dry in a day instead of a week or two. There are several brands of flower desiccants available from craft stores. They may seem a little expensive, but can be reused indefinitely. Silica gel is the generic name and absorbs up to 50 percent of its own weight in moisture. Have perfect flowers, fresh and free of moisture. Yellows and blues maintain their color better than reds or whites.
Remove stems from flowers and insert a short 20-gauge stub wire. (add a longer stem when arranging later.)
Place 1/2" desiccant in bottom of containers that are no higher than 3-1/4".
Place flat-faced flowers face down, with petals resting easily on the sand. Rounded double flowers, such as roses and daffodils, should be dried with their heads upwards. Flowers which are trumpet or bell-shaped should be laid on their sides.
Gently sprinkle desiccant between flowers and into every petal and crevice, with about 1/2" desiccant covering top. Do not cover. When desiccant drying is done outside of dehydrator, containers should be covered.
Place containers on dehydrator tray using 2 or 3 Convert-a-Tray™ accessories (without center tray), above, depending on height of containers. Place lid on top of dryer and set thermostat to 145° F and plug in dehydrator. Most flowers will be totally dry in 24 hours or less.
To test for dryness, gently scrape back desiccant and remove one flower. Hold flower to your ear and give it a gentle tap. If it is dry, it will sound crisp and papery.
Remove remaining flowers by carefully pouring off desiccant, letting it fall slowly through your fingers, catching each flower and carefully removing it by its stem. Stand preserved flowers in a block of flower foam until arranged.
Store in airtight containers until ready to use. In humid climates, protect loose-petal flowers with a light application of finishing spray to prevent moisture absorption.
Dried Apple Wreath
Mod Podge sealer (available in craft supply stores)
1500 mgs. vitamin C (dissolved in 1 gallon of water or lemon or pineapple juice.)
8 or more apples (depending on size of wreath)
hot glue gun & glue sticks
Slice apples into 1/8 inch uniform slices. A meat slicer, apple slicer, or potato slicer results in even slices (do not core apples since core forms an attractive star shape when dried). As you slice each apple, immediately place slices in a solution of pineapple or lemon juice and water (50/50 mix) or vitamin C and water solution. Soak apples 10 minutes, drain, and place on trays to dry. They will take 4 to 8 hours to dry. Remove apples when they are leather-like with no pockets of moisture, but before they become crisp.
Secure a hanging device on back of styrofoam wreath form. Working a small area at a time from the outside in, squeeze a line of glue on outside edge, place an apple slice, keep repeating, over-lapping slices slightly for a fuller look. Continue around outer half of wreath form, until row is completed. Repeat process with inside row, until there are 2 rows of apples side by side. When apples are glued in place, seal with Mod Podge on both sides of wreath, one side at a time. Add a ribbon bow and any other decorative touches.