This valentines I was lucky enough to be given a dozen pinky red roses.
They really are so beautiful especially close up, I share a photo on instagram at the time here.
After a couple of weeks they had started to just crisp a little around the edges so I decided to try drying them to make my own pot-pourri.
I'm now going to bore you with a story from my childhood, feel free to skip it if you just want to know about the petal drying.
I grew up in a little village in the English countryside and a few doors down from ours was "The Big House". That's not it's proper name, but that was what everyone called it. Think Downton Abbey, not the enormous Manor house (there was one of those nearby but that had been converted into a college) more the Dowager Countess' place in the village, or Mrs Cawley's. It was a different style of house but that's the sort of size and I guess the kind of person who lived there back in the olden days.
Anyway, Mrs Dance was an elderly lady who lived in The Big House and my mum used to pop in to see her now and again.
I remember two things about Mrs Dance; she had a black standard poodle dog and an enormous china bowl of home made rose petal pot-pourri in her not insubstantial hallway. The bowl was on a fancy pedestal and I remember Mrs Dance showing me how she added fresh petals to it each year. I was quite little at the time so I had never seen a standard poodle before and had never heard of pot-pourri. So even now some 'cough' 40some years later I still think of both as terribly posh!
Ok, back to my experiments in petal drying.
I did a little research and discovered there are lots of way to dry rose petals. You can give them time in a warm dry place, use the oven and use the microwave. I'm sure there are more ways but this was enough to be going on with.
Method 1 - give them time:
I spread the petals out over a couple of pieces of kitchen roll on a tray.
Then I left them in a warm room, on a chair, next to a radiator.
After 4 days they looked like this:
After 7 days they were completely dry and crispy.
Method 2 - the oven:
I spread the petals out on a couple of old baking trays.
I put the oven on at pretty much it's lowest setting, that was just about 50 c.
After 10 minutes they looked like this:
I removed a few edge ones that were completely crisp then gave the rest another 2 minutes.
The next batch I made sure were spread out a little better and after 10 minutes they were all perfectly crisp.
Method 3 - the microwave:
I put petals on a piece of kitchen roll on a plate, then zapped them for 30 seconds at a time.
After 1 minute the paper was soaking wet and the petals that had been separated properly were crisp, any that had been overlapping were still soft.
I swapped the paper for a fresh dry sheet and removed the crisp ones. I was worried about things catching fire!
After another 30 seconds they were all crisp.
For batch 2 I added a lot less petals, no overlapping and just gave them 1 minute, that seemed to be perfect.
Method 4 - on the radiator:
This only works if you have radiators in your house!
A few petals spread out on a sheet of kitchen roll, placed on the radiator. This was late Feb in the UK so the heating was on!
After 3 days they were crisp.
- The microwave was the quickest by a mile. I could only get 1/2 a flower on a plate at a time but once I had them spread out properly they were ready in 1 minute per plate.
- The oven method was next quickest and it was easier to do more at a time. The main advantage was that I could leave them for 10 minutes with the timer on and didn't have to watch over them. The house smelt pretty amazing too.
- The radiator method was a bit of a waste of time.
- The ones left out for a week kept their smell a little better, but to do this you need space. You don't want to be knocking this tray over whilst they dry.
- Whatever method you choose, having them properly spread out and not overlapping really helps the process.
I've got enough petals to fill 2 containers, a rose bowl type vase and this china dish. This is kind of a mini version of Mrs Dance's bowl on a pedestal which is probably why I thought of it, in the past this has been potted up with plants. I also added a sprinkle of dried lavender to the mix too, mainly because I have some.
My favourite method was the oven, relatively quick and fuss free.
My roses were not very heavily scented anyway so the loss of scent using this method is not a big deal. I plan to add a few drops of essential oil to the bowl now and again anyway. That's what Mrs Dance said she did and who am I to argue with someone who lived in The Big House!
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