Tag Archives: keep

Rose Pot Pourri

Rose pot pourriValentines Day has been and gone and by now those beautiful red roses have begun to fade.  It’s a shame to throw them away when they can so easily be dried and used for pot pourri that will last for many, many weeks, if not months ahead.

The time to turn them into pot pourri is really just as the flower heads start to droop and the petals are dropping away because once removed from the stem, the petals are still colourful and beautiful.

There are a few methods for drying flower petals, two of which require patience, one of which is quick and easy.  Here’s the quick and easy method and all it requires is a few pieces of kitchen paper, a microwave and a small bottle of rose essential oil (a scent ‘fixative’ of orris root powder is an optional extra).

Method

Gently separate the petals from the stems and scatter them in a single layer on a microwaveable plate onto which you have placed a piece of kitchen paper.  Microwave on a medium setting for 15 seconds, turn the petals and microwave again for another 15 seconds.  The petals will become a richer, darker colour but shouldn’t be brittle.  I find that I can generally do one bloom at a time like this.

When they’re all done pop them in a plastic bag and scatter with a few drops of rose essential oil, close the top of the bag and gently toss the petals in the bag.  Then preferably leave the bag shut for half an hour or so before use.  Display in pretty, open containers around the house and top up the scent with more drops of essential oil as and when necessary.

If you want to make the scent last longer, you can add approx. one tablespoon of orris root powder per cup of petals just before you sprinkle on your initial dose of rose oil.  Orris root is simply a natural fixative, derived from the root of a species of iris, and can be obtained from many herb supply outlets.

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Cut flowers

Little Pom PomsCommercially grown cut flowers are treated after they have been harvested so that they last longer.  If you buy from a reputable outlet and follow a few basic rules, there is no reason why you shouldn’t have your flowers for a week or more.  Blooms from the garden are beautiful too, but don’t expect them to last as long.  In either case, the transient nature of real flowers, I think, adds to their beauty.  For me there is something rather sad about the fake versions, no matter how life-like they may look.

The flowers: If you’re buying loose cut flowers follow the basic design principle that things tend to look best grouped in odd numbers so buy three, five or seven stems.   My favourite flower is the oriental lily and just three stems of this in a simple glass vase looks elegant and beautiful, proving that buying flowers needn’t be overly expensive. 

The vase: I tend to prefer glass most of the time – because of its stark simplicity it goes with everything, making the flowers the star attraction.  Other containers do, however, work well and here is where you can use your imagination because if an item has at one time contained liquid, then obviously it can be given a second lease of life as a container for flowers.  Look for antique or vintage kitchen ware – jugs, teapots, tumblers or even little cups.  Old jars, rinsed out and painted with glass paint can look good.  If you have children around you could get them to paint a vase for you.  Even tin cans can take on a new lease of life.  Soak off the labels, clean them thoroughly and make sure there are no raw edges left around the top.  Again, group in odd numbers for maximum impact – three shiny tin cans, lined up in a row and filled with cottage-type garden flowers would look very pretty.

Whatever you use, it should be squeaky clean to begin with as bacteria kills flowers.

Preparing the flowers:  Cut flowers bought from the shop should ideally be dealt with as soon as you arrive home with them.  Unwrap them carefully and trim the stems – take off at least an inch but you can take more if a certain height suits your container better.  (In short containers like cups and tumblers flowers tend to look best if the head appears to float at the level of the rim).   Cut the stems at a slant using sharp scissors or a knife.  I keep a pair of small garden secateurs for this in the kitchen drawer as pre-prepared bunches of flowers often contain flowers with woody stems which play havoc with ordinary scissors. 

Remove all leaves that will sit below the water level otherwise they will start to rot, make the water cloudy and bacteria will begin to grow.

Flowers look equally beautiful whether ‘arranged’ or cut roughly to one length.  You don’t need to be an expert to make a pretty display.  I tend to take pot luck, trimming the stems, individually, to about the same length and slotting them into the vase where I think they look best.  About the only bit of advice I’d give is not to make them look too regimented.  Keep in mind how they would look in the garden, and let your creative eye be your guide.  

Once you have arranged them, fill your vase with lukewarm water into which you have dissolved some commercially prepared flower food – your bunch of flowers should come with a sachet of flower food, either in powder or liquid/gel form.  If you’re buying loose stems, make sure that the supplier gives you a sachet.

Positioning flowers in your home to make them last longer: Avoid direct sunlight, heat and draughts.  Remove faded flowers as they occur.

Butter Cream Rose

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Storing eggs

Les oeufsEggs, if stored properly, remain edible for a good long time – up to around 30 days – and although their appearance will not be quite the same as a very fresh egg, taste and nutritional value remain the same.

They are best kept in the refrigerator at temperatures between 30F to 40F.  Don’t store them in the fridge door as this tends to be the warmest part of the appliance (closer to 45F).

Ideally they should be stored vertically with their narrow end pointing downwards so that the egg inside is not sitting on the pocket of air that exists at the broad end.

Egg shells have microscopic holes in them (you’ll sometimes spot a trail of bubbles escaping from them when boiling them).  For this reason it’s best to store them in a covered container where there is less likelihood of muddling the flavour with nearby food.

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