Martha Stewart was probably one of the first to blog about making pineapple flowers because her post on it dates back to 2003.
The first time I made pineapple flowers, a few months ago, it was a nightmare. According to the recipe, the flowers take about an hour to dry. I followed the instructions exactly but my flowers didn't dry after one hour, then another hour and another hour and it became an obsession everyday to dry the flowers in the oven after I had baked something, to take advantage of the remaining heat in the oven after it was switched off. After a week I felt like the dumbest person ever. The flowers turned darker and smaller but they not only were not dry, they became sticky and wet and limp. I tried drying the ugly sticky flowers under the sun instead. The flowers just remained sticky. And ugly.
I had used a Sarawak pineapple and a local variety pineapple, just to see which one made better flowers. The Sarawak pineapple is always sweet with hardly any sourness, gives a slight crunch and has less juice than other pineapple varieties. I thought that the Sarawak pineapple would dry faster but it too became sticky and remained so after a week of drying.
It bothered me that other bloggers could make pineapple flowers and I failed. Everyone who made them said it was simple so that didn't make me feel so good. One day it occurred to me that the stickiness in my flowers was due to the high amount of sugar so I should start with pineapples that have very little sugar or juice in them. And so it turned out that that was it--the greener the pineapples, the faster and better the flowers dry.
The key to making pineapple flowers turned out to be just that: the greener the pineapples, the faster and better the flowers dry. Start by cutting the skin of the pineapple off, then cut out the 'eyes' using the knife or a melon baller. Now slice crosswise very thinly and lay the pineapple slices on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
Put the pineapple slices into an oven heated at 110 to 115 C. After 15 minutes, mop the surface of the pineapple slices with paper towels, then turn them over and mop again and continue drying. Repeat the mopping every 15 minutes. After about an hour, when the flowers are not wet to the touch and can still be bent, take the tray out and remove the flowers.
The flowers should feel dry but are still flexible. Transfer them into small cupcake pans and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes or more at 110 C so that they dry into curved, realistic-looking flowers. The total drying time from beginning to end is longer than an hour, especially in humid tropical weather. Keep dried flowers in airtight containers, especially in humid weather. Use the pineapple flowers to decorate your cakes!