'Traditional' gum paste in this article refers to gum paste that is made 4 main ingredients - icing / confectioners' sugar, egg whites, tylose / CMC powder and shortening. Gum paste is an extremely versatile medium for creating sugar floral art or edible flowers, because it has the consistency of stretchy clay or dough, which can be molded & shaped into almost any shape one can imagine. This is why gum paste has remained such a popular medium in the culinary and edible decorative art world for such a long time.
This article provides a few tips on how to maintain the beauty of your gum paste flowers, because the flowers made with the traditional recipe are sensitive to moisture & delicate to handle. At Haute Cakes, we have created a special gum paste recipe which is resistant to humidity / moisture & is less fragile than traditional sugar flowers. This means two great things - that you can store your sugar flowers in the fridge, and that it will be easier to create your sugar flower arrangements without worrying about breaking your sugar flowers! Nevertheless, I hope that this article will prove useful to other sugar florists and sugar artists who are working with traditional gum paste.
1. Wipe off any excess buttercream / fondant / cake / icing from your sugar flowers.
These materials are highly perishable and contain a lot of moisture, so they will cause your sugar flowers to disintegrate over time. Sugar flowers are made of a gum paste that consists of icing sugar and tylose/gum powder, which is hygroscopic which means that it absorbs any moisture from the air very quickly. Use a very soft cloth or tissue to wipe off every last bit of buttercream or frostings from your flowers, to prevent the sugar flowers from breaking down from the moisture.
Note: Whatever you do, do not place your flowers in the fridge or freezer! This is because condensation will form on your flowers once you take them out from the fridge or freezer, & your flowers will start to wilt.
2. Place your sugar flowers in a covered box, vase or jar with a small porous sachet of silicon beads.
The reason that it is better for you to keep your sugar flowers in a airtight or covered container (especially in Singapore's humid weather) is to prevent any moisture from getting to your flowers, which as we already know will cause your sugar flowers to melt & lose their shape. Just one episode of humid air getting into your flower petals can cause your sugar petals to wilt. If this happens however, you can still save your sugar flowers (see the Special Note below).
There are many ways to keep your sugar flowers in containers, either displayed or in storage. My favourite way to display sugar flowers in an airtight container is to keep them in a glass cloche (which is a jar or base with a glass cover - see pic below), that has been sealed with clear adhesive to keep the air out. I usually arrange the flowers in a small vase or jar, filled with foam or styrofoam to keep them upright. If the cloche is the right size, you may not even need a jar.
At a minimum, you can just keep your flowers in an airtight container with edible silicon beads & bubble wrap or tissue to protect the delicate petals.
Be careful when handling the sugar flowers, to avoid knocking against any delicate or thin parts of the botanical sugar flower arrangement (but if you do, it's not the end of the world!) Remember that after your flowers have touched non-edible materials, they should not be eaten.
3. After you have arranged your sugar flowers to your liking, place your vase in a cool and dry spot in your home & enjoy!
You can move the sugar flowers arrangement to different spots if you wish; just make sure that you keep them in a cool & dry place for the majority of the time. The best place would be in an air-conditioned room or a room with a dehumidifier, away from intense sunlight or any oil/moisture. In Singapore's intense humidity, you only need one rainy or extra humid day to find that the moisture in the air has caused your sugar flowers to wilt.
If any of the above sounds too difficult or complicated for you, we are also happy to arrange & pack your sugar flowers properly for you for an additional packing fee.
Special Note: How to save your sugar flowers
If your sugar flowers do get exposed to too much moisture or humidity, fret not as there are a few ways you can save them:
1. Place them in an airtight container together with a porous sachet filled with food-safe silicon beads. The silicon beads will absorb the excess moisture in the box & help to dry out your flowers. You should also wrap your flowers with some bubble wrap to cushion the petals from getting knocked around & breaking.
2. Place them over a food dehydrator, which is a machine that will dry out the petals. This is the fastest method to remove the humidity & dry out your sugar flowers. If you don't have a food dehydrator, you can also place them in the oven at a very low temperature (40 - 50 degrees Celsius).
3. Place them under strong air-conditioning & in a dry area, away from any humidity. The flowers should dry out, although note that with this method it is harder to control air humidity in Singapore’s climate.
4. Place them in a room with a dehumidifier, which is a machine that removes humidity from the air.
Note that you should reshape your soft wilted petals back into the desired shape before drying them out, because once they are dried they are brittle & cannot be bent. You can use small pieces of tissue or sponge to prop up your petals in the desired shapes.
Do you have any questions about how to take care of your sugar flowers or make them last longer? Leave a comment below or email me & I will try my best to help you!