Harvesting, Drying, and Storing
Where to begin? Oh, yes the first thing I would like to mention is that all flowers and vegetables have various possibilities for storage.
For example, tomatoes can freeze, be dehydrated and freezed, or canned.
All peppers can be cut and freezed, or dehydrated and freezed, or canned with sauces.
Not much can be done with lettuce asides from making dehydrated chips.
Those techniques listed above can be used to prolong the harvest and allow year long supply of quality veggies.
Other plants and flowers can be dried for long term storage. The list is long, but, the concept is the same. The plants become bone dry; both flowers and stalks. Without adequate dryness, mold could settle in.
Below are instructions to dry flowers for long term storage.
The plants should be picked when they are ripe.
Often, females have pistils that change color at maturity, and the flowers peak into a beautiful, natural, ornamental flower. Sometimes pistils will go from white (or a color) to a dead brown. The peak harvest time is often somewhere in between. However, other times the flowers will overmature with a significant amount of healthy-looking pistils in the flowers.
When some flowering plants overmature, the flowers will fluff-out, or become dry and old looking. The fine line in between full maturity and over aging is often the time to pick the flowers since they are at their largest size with maximum beauty.
Exact timing to pick will vary from plant to plant. Some overmature in style and still make a wonderful flower, while some will weaken so quickly that the grade is significantly decreased.
Outdoor growing creates many more variables than indoor growing. For example, a plant that isn’t mold resistant may be plagued by mold before it is quite ripe. By the time it ripens, there may be no flowers left to save. Therefore, calculated decision-making enters into the program.
Yet another situation is when a strain isn’t quite finished before the frosts arrive. In this case, it is recommended to monitor such a plant and pick it when it looks like it can’t go any further, or when mold seems to be lurking. All plants should be picked either in the morning or evening / night.
Mature flowering plants can be dried in locations such as a room (65 to 70°F) with a humidity of 30 to 50%. Some types can be dried in a solar dehydrator.
Flowering plants can be hung to dry, or picked as they dry. Hanging flowers to dry before picking is recommended for those that want to keep down the irritating odor of handled flowers. Strains that grow odor-free will still release an odor when handled, especially when they are not dry. Picking all flowers requires removing the larger leaves in the flowers, then shaving the leaf near the flower with scissors or shears.
flowers dry more quickly when air is moved around via an oscillating fan, even when the humidity is a little high and the temperature is cool.
Dehumidifiers dramatically speed up the drying process.
Sweating flowers after they initially dry can help pull moisture out of the stalks and into the leaf parts. Sweating can be done once, or more than once. Sweating for 1 day to several weeks is an option. flowers stored with a little moisture will be better than flowers that are stored bone-dry, given all things equal.
However, flowers stored with too much moisture for too long can turn brown, which can lead to mold and / or rot. The line is not fine between mold and brown. However, the odor of the flowers will change dramatically when mold sets in. When mold sets in, a musty smell will be obvious.
Some flowering growers like to dry their crop in the bush, especially a forager that collects other wild, flowering plants, or, a homesteader that lives in the bush. There are a few basic options here: propane heat, wood heat, solar dehydrator, or electric heat with power drawn from a generator.
Propane heat is not recommended because it adds moisture and may make the job tough if the humidity cannot be dealt with. However, a canvas tent, which will absorb plenty of moisture, can allow the job to be done if there are no better options. In fact, drying flowers is possible in a canvas tent when the doors are left open, even in rain when the humidity is high, but the color may be a little on the brown side.
Gas generators that provide electricity can give power for electric heaters and instruments such as dehumidifiers. However, generators are fairly bulky to move, and they need fuel—not the best option unless the setup is hassle free.
Solar dehydrators can utilize the energy of the sun to dry flowers. This is a cost-effective device. They can be purchased at stores, or they can be homemade.
Wood heat is best used in a canvas wall tent, a plastic shack house, or a wood cabin. Wall tents are designed to use wood stoves, they keep a reasonable climate, and they are nice and portable, too.
If a wall tent is used, it should be set up near a decent supply of wood.
Many foragers who collect natural flowers to sell to wholesalers use portable drying methods.
The bottom line: the drying process is the wrong place to skimp.
Canning and Storing Dried Goods
flowers can be canned and stored in mason jars. They can be stored in plastic too, but plastic releases an odor.
Before storage, the jars should be washed with soap and water. Then they should be rinsed with clean water.
The next step is to boil the jars in water for 5 minutes before they are allowed to dry.
The jars should be delicately filled with the dry flowers. The weight of the flowers will not change if the flowers are properly dried.
The mason jar lids should be placed in a saucepan and boiled for 3 to 5 minutes. Both sides of the lids should be dried with a cloth, then the lids should be immediately placed on the jars and the bands screwed on.
The jars should be left in a cool or cold spot for a night or two.
If the lids are secured properly, the lids will be popped down, not popped up. If they are popped up, pressing each lid down with sharp, quick taps can secure the lid with a downward placement.
Finally, the jars should be stored in a cool, safe spot. The shelf life is indefinite for flowers that have been properly dried.