If you make gumpaste sugar flowers, it is likely that at some point in time you will need to know how to store them. It may be because you have made the flowers for a cake in advance of the time they are required or you make them as an artistic venture and would like to keep your work.
Also, there may be a time when you have made a cake for family, friends or customers and they ask you how the flowers can be preserved as a memory of the special occasion. Whatever the circumstances you need to know how to store them correctly, so the flowers survive in pristine condition for everyone to enjoy for years to come.
To store gumpaste flowers successfully you should make sure they are perfectly dry before you store them, keep them away from any moisture by sealing them in an airtight box and if the box is transparent, make sure they are stored away from direct sunlight that will fade them, and they should then last indefinitely.
Follow these steps if you want to know how it’s done for the best results…
How to store gumpaste flowers
To store gum paste sugar flowers successfully, there are several steps you need to follow…
1. Make sure the flowers are dry
2. If you have only just made the flowers then leave them in a cool, dry, dark place for a few days to make sure they are properly dry before they are stored
3. If the sugar flowers have been used to decorate a cake then, before you store them, you must make sure that none of the cake ingredients e.g., buttercream or ganache have stuck to them. If it has then they need to be carefully wiped clean. I usually remove as much of it as I can with soft tissue and then wipe the area with a cotton bud dipped in a little vodka which will help to remove any grease and because it is a spirit it dries very quickly without damaging the flowers. When they are as clean as you can get them once again, make sure the flowers are still completely dry in case they have absorbed a little moisture from the cake or from the atmosphere where they have been displayed
4. Find a sturdy, airtight, dark colored, plastic container (or several if you have many flowers), add several sachets of silica gel then place the flowers in the box. I usually carefully place some bubble wrap around the flowers to prevent them from moving and breaking but tissue paper or soft plastic will do the job just as well
The reason that a dark box is used is to avoid bright light getting onto the flowers because it will fade them but if you can only find a transparent box then store it in a dark place or put it inside another box that won’t let in the light.
We all put everything in the fridge but not necessary for sugar flowers…
Can gum paste flowers be refrigerated for storing?
It is not a good idea to refrigerate gum paste flowers unless you have a commercial cake fridge or a domestic fridge that has been made cake safe and even then, only leave them in there for a short time.
When food is placed into a domestic fridge, even if the food feels cold, it is quite a few degrees warmer than the environment into which it is being placed and it produces moisture.
If sugar flowers are placed into the fridge, they will absorb the moisture and will become soft and lose their shape.
Also, sugar flowers will absorb the taste and the smell of other food that is around them and although there may be no intention to eat the flowers the smell and taste could be transferred to the cake.
If sugar flowers are stored in a fridge and they have survived the moisture problem, when you remove them and they come up to room temperature condensation is likely to form, and there is a possibility of the flowers disintegrating.
I know you are going to say that your local baker displays cakes decorated with sugar flowers in a refrigerator and that is true. There are specialized cake fridges that are only used for cakes, and they are set to a certain temperature and have filters that prevent moisture spoiling the cakes and flowers. Because those fridges are only used for cakes, there are no smells or tastes for them to absorb.
There is more information about cake fridges and how to convert a domestic refrigerator to be a cake fridge exclusively.
If you have no alternative and a fully decorated cake needs to be kept in a domestic fridge there is a way to do it, but there is no guarantee that the flowers will survive intact.
1. Clear your fridge of all other food then wash it out thoroughly and dry with a kitchen towel
2. Wipe down all surfaces in the refrigerator with pure lemon juice. This will ensure that any leftover smells are eliminated including any odor from the cleaning chemicals you have used
3. Set the fridge to its warmest setting and it will keep the cake cool and reduce the amount of condensation that forms when you remove it from the refrigerator into room temperature
4. Place the decorated cake in a cardboard box with some silica gel sachets on the bottom and put it in the fridge. Using a cardboard box will help to absorb the moisture
5. When you ready to use the cake remove it from the fridge and wait until it reaches room temperature before removing it from the box. Don’t touch the cake while you can see any condensation because there is a chance of leaving fingerprints on it and of breaking the flowers
If you need to keep the cake in a fridge because it is made of perishable ingredients such as fresh cream or buttercream, it is best to leave the flowers off the cake and put them on once the cake has reached room temperature and is free of condensation.
You could freeze them, but it is not a good idea…
Can you freeze gum paste flowers to store them?
You can freeze gumpaste flowers but it is not something I have ever done and not something I would recommend although someone told me that they stored some sugar flowers in their freezer for years and they are perfectly ok.
I would be worried that if there were a power cut would condensation ruin them as they warmed up, but if all my food spoiled I suppose, that would be the least of my worries.
However, as I have already said, it is unnecessary because as there are other much better ways to store them.
How to store gum paste flowers made in advance?
When we say making flowers in advance, it usually means we have made them for a specific project and will use them after a short while.
They will be fine if you leave them for a few days in the coldest part of your kitchen or a cool pantry until you need them then place the flowers on the cake as near to the time it is required.
If the atmosphere is humid in your workroom, then store them in an airtight plastic box as we have already discussed.
How long can you store gum paste flowers?
If gum paste sugar flowers are stored correctly, there is no reason why they shouldn’t last indefinitely.
I have given you all the information you will need to store your gum paste sugar flowers to make sure they are in perfect condition no matter how long you keep them. However, I have a confession to make about how I didn’t take notice of my knowledge about storage.
Over 30 years ago I made a 50th wedding anniversary cake for my parents. It was one of the first cakes I made so after the celebration my mother gave me one of the sprays of sugar flowers for me to keep. I put it in a plastic bag, put it in a box and didn’t seal it, thinking I would store it properly when I had time.
Over the years, I moved house three times, and on the third move I traveled to another country and all my flower and cake making equipment, ready made flowers, etc., came with me.
It was when I started to write this article that I went hunting for the anniversary flowers.
Over 30 years old and still OK despite the fact they were not treated properly
They were still in the bag I put them in, that was not sealed properly and somehow they had survived, so it was a miracle they hadn’t got completely smashed and destroyed by moisture.
Surprisingly, the only damage is a that a couple of the flower petals have broken and there are a few brown spots on the leaves where the wires have rusted as some moisture has got to them.
So, if I had packed them correctly, I am sure they would have survived all this time with no damage at all.
I feel so guilty that I have not taken care of them properly so now I will carefully store them as I should have from the beginning and I will be extra careful that they don’t deteriorate any more.
So, if they survived for this length of time without proper care, I think it is irrefutable proof that if gum paste sugar flowers are looked after properly, they will last forever.
Anyway, don’t try to copy my poor attempts of storing sugar flowers as you may not be so lucky as I was and they may not survive.
If you don’t want to hide your flowers away, there are other ways you can preserve them and still see them…
Preserving gumpaste flowers for storage
As I have already said, the easiest way to store any gum paste sugar flowers for any length of time is to wrap them well, put them in an airtight box, put them on a shelf and provided they are not dropped or crushed, they will stay that way indefinitely.
However, anyone who has had sugar flowers made for a special occasion cake will often want to see the flowers to remind them of the special day, and there are ways to do just that.
Under a dome
Over the years I have been making sugar flowers the most popular way to display the flowers has been under a transparent dome. This means having the bouquets of flowers used on a cake, returned to me so I can disassemble them and then rearrange them into the dome. It takes quite a time to do, but the result is worth it.
The photo at the top of this article is of a cake I made for a friend’s birthday, and she decided that she would like to preserve the flowers after the occasion and liked the idea of a dome to keep them in.
I thought it would be a good idea to take photos as I made it to be able to show you how it’s done.
The most important thing to remember is that the dome needs to not only take the flowers and leaves but also a central column of florists dry foam to mount the flowers in to keep them in place, so care need to be taken when choosing the size of the dome.
I usually buy the dome myself as I know how big it needs to be but if the purchase is out of your hands, make sure the buyer realizes how it will be used and buys one large enough to take the majority if not all the flowers.
When I make flowers for a special cake I usually make several more of each type of flower and leaf just in case I break any when I am assembling them into bouquets or sprays to put onto a cake so I usually have several extras I can use for the dome if I need them.
Flowers to work with – Take the bouquets apart and place the different types of flowers into holders so you can see exactly what you have to work with.
Flowers waiting to be arranged in the dome
Arranging the flowers – you will need some dry florist’s foam to hold the flowers in place. Cut the foam to the shape required, allowing enough room for all the flowers you will use in the display.
It usually takes several tries to get it just right so that the flowers fit and don’t look as if they have been squashed right up to the glass.
Next, glue the foam to the base of the dome and leave it to dry. When it’s dry and before you start arranging the flowers, see if you need to cut any more of the foam away by placing one each of the largest flowers around the foam to make sure you have left enough room for the dome cover and then start making your arrangement.
Arranging the flowers in the florist’s foam and the completed, sealed dome
Under the Dome – Once all the flowers are in place, I hide some sachets of silica gel on the base, under the flowers in case any moisture has remained in the display which could cause it all to go moldy then I seal the cover to the base with a spirit based glue.
The most important thing to remember is to keep the dome containing the flowers in a shaded part of a room because direct sunlight will fade the flowers quickly.
As a picture
Another way you can display the flowers is in a shadow picture frame. The flowers can be disassembled from the bouquet and reassembled into a display that will fit the frame, or you may be able to buy a frame or have one made that is large enough and deep enough to take the bouquet just as it was on the cake.
However, the same rules apply to keep them all fresh and bright. The flowers must be dry, some silica gel sachets should be placed under the flowers, the frame needs to be sealed and when displayed keep it out of direct sunlight, and you will enjoy them for years to come.
Store them right and they will stay fresh and bright
Gum paste sugar flowers take time, patience and skill to produce and the finished flowers are stunning when they are mounted on a cake for a special occasion.
After the celebration, they can be a memory of that special day, and they can be packed away or stored so they can be seen for years to come.