For short-term use, simply brush petals with beaten egg white and dip in caster sugar, then dry on a wire cake rack for about 24 hours. Use a small paintbrush (one from a child’s paint box is about the right size) and handle the flowers carefully so they do not bruise.
For long-term storage, the flowers must be crystallized in a solution of gum arabic and rose- or orange-flower water. Crystals (not powder) of gum arabic can be bought from chemists, but may have to be ordered. Allow 3 teaspoons crystals to 3 tablespoons rose-water or orange-flower water and put them into a screw-top jar. Leave for 3 days, shaking occasionally until the mixture is a sticky glue. Use a small, soft paintbrush to paint the flowers. For large flowers such as roses, it will be necessary to take the flowers apart, process the petals, and then reassemble the flowers for use. Paint the flowers very carefully so that petals are completely coated, as bare spots will shrivel and not keep. Colours should remain natural and delicate, but a very little vegetable food colouring may be added if the colours need brightening. When each flower is painted with gum arabic solution, dust it with caster sugar. Use a small teaspoon to sprinkle on the sugar, rather than dipping the flower into the sugar which will make the resulting crystallization rather clogged and heavy. Put the completed flowers on a wire cake rack and leave in a warm dry place for 24 hours until crisp and dry before storage in a screw-top jar or a box.
© 1978 Mary Norwak estate. All rights reserved.