This article is about preserving flowers, leaves, and other foliage from your garden, yard, or bouquet, in a food dehydrator, thus extending their beauty in flower arrangements that will last to, and through, the winter months, or even beyond. Here you will find simple steps on drying flowers with a food dehydrator to produce a potpourri of color and fragrance.
The starting point is the selection of flowers. I use flowers throughout the following explanations but it includes other foliage that can be dried as supplements to a wreath, or any other dried arrangements that the imagination creates. Flowers, selected for drying, can be anywhere along the bloom but not past the point of full bloom. Do not use bloom that is damaged, by blight, insects, wind, or withered. If the flower has been subjected to pesticide, or dirt, it can be sprayed with a pump type mist sprayer, similar to one of the window cleaner sprayers, then gently shaken to remove as much water as possible. Never use detergents, or cleaner sprays.
Most food dehydrators have trays that are inch apart, that provides plenty of clearance if drying flower petals, or leaf type foliage separately, but for drying a complete floral bloom remove one or two trays, on the drawer type dehydrators, to accommodate an entire flower. The trays should be clean. I have lined the trays with parchment paper, but many food dehydrators have non-stick sheets available that fit their drying shelves. You need room when drying flowers keeping them spread out so as not to touch each other causing discoloring or distortion. A thermostat on the food dehydrator should range between 100 deg F and 140 deg F. Flower petals will dry well around 100-120 deg F for 2 to 5 hours.
A discussion about drying flowers would not be complete without mentioning Roses. Of all flowers from the garden, or florist, to me, roses and dried rose petals, produce the best aromatic fragrance, and potpourri, as any other dried flower. Their perfume seems more permeating, and is longer lasting than most blooms.
In earlier times flowers were dried by burying them in sand, as well as hanging them in a bag made out of paper, or porous cloth. These methods were time consuming, in most cases up to several weeks. It becomes clear now, why food dehydrators have come into vogue for making dried flower arrangements. The drying process is very less involved, less mess, and the drying time reduced to between the two to three hour range. This reduced time in processing contributes to a better quality of dried flower.
In summary, drying flowers, or foliage, in a food dehydrator has advantages over a microwave. Food dehydrators provide a wider drying area so items do not come in contact with each other causing spoilage of the petals during the drying process. Food dehydrators are able to provide for higher volumes of produce, not only do they have larger drying capacity, but can accommodate larger and more bulky flowers.