I grow a lot of edible flowers in my urban permaculture garden. That way, I not only have plenty of flowers for the bees, but also lots of beautiful edibles to brighten up any meal. Edible flowers have so many health benefits and valuable nutritional qualities. Flowers don’t often last long on the plant and a great way to preserve and harness their energy is to press or dry them. This way you can make infused oils, herbal teas and still have beautiful bright flowers to use throughout the year.
What Time of Day is Best to Pick Edible Flowers?
Pick your edible flowers in the morning but after the sun has come up. First thing in the morning the flowers will still be closed so wait until they fully open up. They will be at their best in the morning, full of life and well hydrated. Throughout the day they can lose moisture and become damaged by insects or wind. Make sure you select flowers that you know don’t have any chemicals or sprays on them. I only use flowers I have grown in my backyard as I can have more control over their surroundings.
Should you Dry the Whole Flower or just the Petals?
You can do both! If the flower has a thick base or bud I tend to remove the petals. Flowers such as Sunflower and Hibiscus, I usually remove the petals. The base will take a very long time to dry and most of the time will not be palatable/hard and bitter. Calendula has many healing properties in the base, leave this on if you are going to use it for infused oils and balms.
Air Drying Flowers Naturally
The main way that I preserve my edible flowers is to air dry them naturally. I keep a bowl or plate in my pantry and add petals and flowers to it regularly. Each time I go out to the garden to pick veggies, I will pick edible flowers as well. If I don’t use them fresh in my meals I will just pop them aside to dry. It is very hot and dry here in Perth, Australia during the summer, so they will dry within a couple of days. If you live in a humid or cool climate or it is winter, it would be best to oven-dry or use a dehydrator. You want to get the flowers as dry as possible with no moisture left. This is to prevent them from going mouldy or growing bacteria.
Oven drying flowers
Turn your oven on to 40-50degrees Celcius and spread your flowers out on a tray. If your flowers have thick buds or bases it will be best to separate them out and just dry the petals. This may take a while depending on the size and moisture levels of your flowers. It may take around 4-6 hours and gently turn and mix your flowers around during that time to help them dry evenly.
Drying flowers in the dehydrator
Lay your flowers out flat on a tray and turn your dehydrator on to 40-50 degrees Celcius. It will depend on the moisture levels and size of your flowers but it will take between 4-6 hours to dry. Make sure they are completely dry and they may sound crunchy to touch.
Pressing Edible Flowers
Another way I like to preserve my edible flowers is to press them. You can do this with any flower press or to press flowers without a flower press, simply place your flowers between sheets of paper or a notepad and stack some heavy books on top. Press whole flowers or petals but if the bud or base of the flower is quite thick, I would remove it and just press the petals. Pressing flowers will take a while to ensure that they are completely dry. Depending on your temperatures and climate it can take between 2-4 weeks to dry your edible flowers.
How to Store Edible Flowers
Once your flowers are completely dry you can store them in an airtight container out of sunlight. I keep all my air-dried flowers in jars in my pantry. My pressed flowers that I want to keep intact, I store in a glass container with a bit of paper towel. In dry conditions, these will last quite a while. I have some from a year ago that are still great.
How to use Dried Edible Flowers?
There are so many ways to use your dried flowers. Here are some of my favourite ways to use them.
- Herbal Teas
- Cocktail Garnish Mixes
- Infused oils
- Infused Vinegar
- Cake decorating
- Everyday meal garnishing
- Botanical Salts
- Arts and crafts
- Bath bombs or decoration
- Hand scrubs
- Infused spirits
- Healing body balms
WATCH my Video on How to Preserve Edible Flowers
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