“Won’t you come into the garden? I would like my roses to see you.” – Richard Brinsley Sheridan
Some of the roses grown in my garden include:
Row 1: Constance Spry, Alchymyst, Paul’s Himalayan Musk
Row 2: Rugosas: Therese Bugnet, Rubra, Alba
Row 3: Konigen Von Danemark, Eglantine (leaves smell like green apples!), Mary
Row 4: Willliam Baffin, Dr. Huey, Salet
Roses are truly the queens of the garden. Often a point of pride with a gardener, roses have great visual impact. Yet, who can resist inhaling deeply of their heady scent? Nearly always, a smile plays over the face of the one inhaling. That inhalation is a natural aromatherapy treatment. Gerianol, and dozens of other chemical constituents, combine synergistically to elevate mood and reduce inflammation.
Growing those roses with the most intoxicating scent also yields a flavor bonus – roses can be delicious! Only petals from fragrant rose varieties yield good taste. If the scent is not there, neither is the taste. Grow old-fashioned and species roses for the best outcome.
Rose petal jelly is a lovely way to make use of aromatic rose petals. On a cold January day, sitting next to a fire, opening a jar of rose petal jelly to spread on an English muffin, brings to mind warm summer days. This jelly is also wonderful spread on a little cream cheese and served on crackers. It can also be used as a glaze the last 20 minutes when roasting a chicken. Oh yeah, peanut butter and rose petal jelly also rocks!
Gather your rose petals while ye may. Only use ORGANIC rose petals, preferably ones you have grown yourself. You can also forage wild roses, if they are not too close to a roadside. Most roses from florists have been heavily sprayed with pesticides, fungicides and who-knows-what-else. Those are not safe to eat.
On a warm, sunny day – after the dew has dried – pick the rose petals. I do not pick the entire rose, just the petals. I leave the center portion to develop into rose hips, which will be harvested and used in the autumn. As seen in the photos below, I scrunch the rose petals into my hand and gently pull towards me. This frees the petals, but leaves the center of the rose. I will caution you to watch for bees!!! If you gather and grab and there happens to be be a bee going about her business in the center of the flower, she will not be amused at being scrunched and may sting. I give the flower a little pat first, warning the bees of impending human interference, then scrunch and pull. In the second photo you can see a rose flower, the central potion of the one just harvested, and a developing rose hip below that.
For this size batch of jelly, you are looking to harvest about 3 cups of firmly packed rose petals. Many times, you will see instructions in recipes telling you to cut off the white “heel” of the rose petal, as they can be bitter. What a tedious chore! To find out if that is necessary, taste test the rose petal. If the entire thing is sweet, there is no reason to spend hours cutting the heels. This rose, which is a Rugosa rose, Rubra, is sweet tip to heel.
3 cups of fresh rose petals, packed tightly down
3 1/2 cups of water
3 cups of sugar
1 box of powdered pectin (do not use freezer jam pectin or low sugar pectin)
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
Pot with a lid
Jelly jars, sterilized
Bring the water to a boil. Turn off heat and quickly add rose petals. Ensure all petals are submerged. Put lid on pot and let everything sit, off the heat, for 1-2 hours.
Strain the rose liquid from the petals. Measure and see if you have 3 cups of liquid. If you do, great. If you do not, just add water to make 3 cups.
Pour the rose liquid into the pot. Turn heat on medium-high. Add sugar and lemon juice. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a hard boil, (one that keeps boiling even when you stir it). Add pectin and stir until dissolved. Bring to a hard boil again for 2 minutes. Pour immediately into hot, sterilized jelly jars. Clean rims. Cap. Enjoy.