The fragrance of roses is a Middle Eastern favorite for pastries and delights. This old-fashioned recipe shows how to make it yourself. Photo by Marlis1 via Flickr.
In the Middle East, rose water scents pastries like Ma’amoul cookies, puddings, and clothes. It comes in tiny glass bottles if it’s concentrated, and in larger plastic bottles if it’s not so strong. But there are other uses for rose fragrance.
Aromatherapists consider rose essence effective for calming a troubled mind, and as an aphrodisiac. Soothing and sensual, good for the skin and the spirit, why not make your own from fresh, organic roses?
Use only roses that haven’t been sprayed with pesticides. If none grow near you, ask your closest CSA farm if they can spare you some.
Ingredients and Equipment:
- 4 quarts fresh, organic rose petals, gathered in the early morning
Plenty of ice cubes
- Stock pot with lid
- A large Pyrex or other heat-proof bowl and a metal trivet or canning rack
1. Place the canning rack or trivet on top of the petals. Position the bowl on top of it.
2. Place the rose petals in the pot. Pour distilled water to barely cover the petals. The water in the pot should not come up to the bowl’s rim, but only within two inches of it.
3. Place the lid upside down over the pot. Turn the flame on under the pot and bring the water to a boil.
4. Fill the top of the inverted pot lid with ice cubes. Turn the heat down. Keep the water at a gentle simmer – so that it’s scarcely moving – for two hours.
5. Add ice cubes as the first ones melt. Check that the petals are not drying out, a few times. Don’t add more water if it seems they might dry out – just turn the heat off.
Condensation saturated with the rose’s essential oils accumulates on the surface of the inverted lid and drips into the bowl. When this distillation process is finished, you will have your own, fresh rose water.
Important: store the rose water in a very clean, very dry glass jar with a lid that shuts tightly. Keep it refrigerated.
Uses for rose water:
- Splash a little over your face after showering, or just as a refreshing, soothing thing to do when you’re hot and stressed.
- Do the same for your baby or any loved one.
- For oily skin, mix 1 tablespoon marigold or rosemary tea with 4 tablespoons rosewater. Pat it all over the face and allow it to dry naturally.
- For dry skin, use the pure rosewater.
- Put it in a spray container and shpritz your bed linens lightly with rosewater. Allow the linens to dry before going to bed.
- Perfume yourself the same way.
Miriam is Green Prophet’s food and wine writer. She writes the Israeli Kitchen blog.