Flowers are Nature’s art masterpieces. Colored to perfection. For long I have tried to preserve flowers with their colours intact. When we were small we used to press flowers and leaves between the pages of a book but it could never keep the fresh look or the color often turning black and mold covered.
There are many methods available now which dry flowers for artistic uses. Some of them use silica gel to cover flowers for drying. Very good to preserve whole flower but require a lot of silica gel. Having tried it many times but the color changes upon drying. Also it would not be nice to have silica gel powdered along with flower when making coloured powders.
Many use microwave drying. A very good method for quick drying though not economical as it only uses few flowers at a time. One has to be very careful not to burn it inside the oven.
Using iron to press flowers sandwiched between two paper sheets works well once relations of temperature, moisture, weather conditions are mastered though not very convenient. Takes a lot of time to iron out one by one.
Conventional ovens at lowest mode or dehydrators are also used to dry flowers. It takes several hours and there is color change. Glycerine is used to preserve softness of flowers but color changes to dark brown.
Having tried all of the above methods for flowers I receive in a party or religious festival, I was on a lookout for a hassle free, economical and chemical free method to recycle the flowers in bulk. Here is one of my successful attempts.
I washed them in vinegar solution for a minute and then dried them completely by spreading over a clean cotton cloth under a fan. Once dried I separated the petals and put them in a zipped foil pouch and put it in the back of the freezer. Did that to neem leaves too which I had plucked while driving on a highway and forgot completely in the daily struggles of life. Last week, after about a year while cleaning the freezer I suddenly remembered and quickly opened the pouched to see what the status was. Both petals and leaves were completely dry and brittle to touch but the color retained. I think the process of darkening or oxidation was retarded at low temperatures and dryness in the freezer.
I tried my hands at grinding the petals though my grinder is not very good but still the color is maintained after grinding and could be used as a color for festivals or in herbal cosmetics. Different shades could be achieved by mixing with corn starch
In any Indian household different flowers are used throughout the year and saving some in this way will take little time to make harmless chemical free colours for festivals like Holi. Just be sure to gift some to your neighbours too who will otherwise put chemical laden color on you.