There are various ways to preserve fresh flowers and fruits including air drying and pressing. Using a desiccant (drying agent) like silica gel and a microwave oven can create some of the best colors and freshest looking flowers and fruits. While silica gel is more costly than other desiccants, like borax combined with cornmeal or sand, it can be used over and over again with proper maintenance. The craft of preserving fresh flowers and fruits is both an art and science.
Prepare flowers by cutting stems down to an inch or two with a sharp knife, since stems retain a lot of moisture. Make certain all fruits are clean.
Pour an inch of silica gel crystals into the bottom of your microwave container.
Gently place flowers facing up and fruits onto the silica gel, taking care they do not touch one another.
Cover all flowers and fruits completely with silica gel.
Place filled container into microwave along with a small glass of water, which prevents over-drying.
Microwave uncovered on high for one to three minutes. The amount of moisture that needs to be removed determines microwave time, according to Purdue University Cooperative Extension---Department of Horticulture.edu. (See References 4)
Remove container from microwave and let stand. Like microwave time, standing time varies. As moisture is removed, silica gel will turn from blue to gray or a pinkish gray.
Brush aside silica gel and carefully remove each preserved flower and fruit.
Place used silica gel on a cookie sheet and bake in your oven at 250-275 degrees F. for several hours until it turns its original blue color. Immediately return to its original container for future use.