Part II in a series of 4 about cooking and healing with roses.
To cook with fresh roses, first make sure they haven’t been sprayed with pesticides. Then get up early, while the dew is still on the flowers and before they’ve released most of their perfume. Clip off as many as you need and place them in a shallow basket, so as not to crush them. Take a few minutes to inhale the divine fragrance before you head back to the kitchen.
Plan to use your roses up within two hours of harvesting, as they begin to dry up as soon as they’re off the stems. Your recipe will taste best if you snip off the white part at the base of the petals because it’s a little bitter. One more step, you might say? Yes, but there are few things more lovely to do than sit with a lapful of roses in the morning. Discard any withered petals.
Now you can choose to make an old-fashioned English rose butter, a Polish rose jam, or a Mexican rose petal sauce. Or all three. More rose recipes in the next post!
English Rose Butter
Soften 3/4 cup unsalted butter
Finely chop 1 cup fresh rose petals
Mix well and let the butter stand, covered, at room temperature for 2 hours.
Refrigerate, covered, for 24 hours before spreading on pancakes, scones, or muffins.
Polish Rose Jam
No need to cook this sweet delicacy. I adapted it to the food processor, but traditionally, the rose petals are crushed in a mortar with the sugar breaking them down as you pound away with the pestle. Try it that way by all means, if you’re feeling traditional.
4 large handfuls of fresh pink or red rose petals
500 grams – 1 lb. granulated sugar
Place the petals in a food processor and start blending them.
Gradually add the sugar.
Whirl the petals and sugar until you obtain a thick paste.
Store in sterilized jars. The jam will keep up to two years.
Mexican Rose Petal Sauce
If prickly pears aren’t in season or just not your thing, substitute a peeled red apple or 3 peeled red plums. Not traditional but delicious: stir 3 or 4 saffron threads into the mix while it’s cooking.
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon anise seeds
1 prickly pear, peeled and chopped
Petals from 12 fresh roses – a few set aside for garnish
1 cup chopped walnuts
3 cups water
2 tablespoons honey
Melt the butter in a medium pan. Add the garlic and anise. Cook gently over low heat until the fragrance rises – about 2 minutes. Add salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, one more minute and remove the pan from the heat.
Blend the fresh fruit, rose petals and walnuts in a food processor. Add water to cover. Process the mix until it’s smooth.
Add the fruit/rose puree to the garlic in the pan. Add the honey, salt and pepper.
Simmer, stirring, 10 minutes. Add more water if the sauce appears too thick.
Strain the sauce through a sieve.
Taste the sauce and adjust seasonings if desired.
Serve over roasted quail, chicken, or turkey. Garnish with reserved petals.