Cut flowers are one of the little luxuries that make life sweet. Whether I buy flowers or cut my own, I try to keep them fresh for as long as possible, and always feel a pang of regret when I finally have to throw them out.
Drying cut flowers is a great way to keep some of the beauty around.
Dried cut flowers have a pleasant scent of their own, and can be dressed up with dried citrus peels or scented oils for homemade potpourri.
In the Florida humidity, most traditional forms of drying flowers are out of the question, especially for heavy flowers like roses, so I dry my flowers in the oven. For the best color and scent in dried flowers, dry when they are just beginning to wilt.
It is best to use an oven safe rack that is raised up so the flowers can be lodged into the squares and kept upright.
I cut as high up as I can, to remove the green base below the petals. Be careful not to cut too high or the petals will come apart.
Position smaller and thinner flowers on one side of the rack so they can be nearer the open oven door. Even so, you will want to check every hour or so to see if any flowers need to be removed.
I set my oven as low as it will go and leave the door open about halfway.
I check every hour until a sweet smell somewhere between flower and baked good fills the house.
At this point I begin checking and removing dried flowers every half hour. I check for dryness by pushing gently down on the middle of the flower. Any softness means they need more time.
If it seems that one side is getting drier than another, you can turn the trays around in the oven, but don’t close the door.
Let the flowers cool before using them in potpouri or an arrangement. If using a bowl without air flow put down a layer of rice to prevent humidity from accumulating. Enjoy your flowers for many months to come. The less direct light they receive, the longer their color will last.