Now that we’re into the warmer spring weather here in San Jose, local rose bushes are blooming and scenting the air with their fragrance. Roses not only smell wonderful, but are edible, when grown without chemical fertilizers and pesticides. If you have access to food-grade fresh or dried roses, you can use them for both culinary and medicinal purposes — they are soothing and moisturizing — and some rose recipes are good additions to the tea party pantry! Some of the most useful rose-scented treats include rose water and rose jelly.
Rose water can be added, a spoonful at a time, to a cup of hot tea or a glass of iced tea, for flavor and aroma, and can be used, with granulated sugar, to make a rose-scented sugar or rose syrup for flavoring iced tea or cocktails, or with powdered sugar, to make icing for tea cakes, cookies and sweet scones. Local grocery stores carry rose water in the Middle Eastern food aisle, and this has been distilled so that it is shelf-stable.
Rose water can also be made at home as an herbal infusion or tisane, by putting fresh or dried, clean, chemical-free rose petals into a heat-safe container, covering them with boiling water, and letting them steep until the rose petals turn white and transluscent. Strain out the used rose petals and discard them, and keep the rose water in the fridge, covered, for up to a week (it is not a sterile solution, so it may grow mold after a week’s time).
Rose jelly is another use for rose water, and preserves it longer than a week. It can be used on scones or toast, as filling for tarts (especially with whipped cream on top), and melted into a glaze for fruit desserts or cakes. To make rose jelly:
Take about 2 cups of rose water, and put it in a saucepan with about 1 cup of sugar.
Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.
Add the juice of 1 fresh lemon, and let cook until liquid is reduced by half. Jelly will be softly set. You can add a package of dry pectin before you let the jelly reduce, if you want it to set more firmly.
Remove from the heat, and seal in a sterilized 1- to 2-cup container.
Store in the refrigerator for a few weeks, or process in a water bath as for other jellies and jams.
You can even make a rose extract (or tincture, in antique terms), by filling a clean canning jar with fresh, clean, chemical-free rose petals, and covering them with vodka, brandy or another alcoholic spirit. Screw the lid on the jar and set it in a sunny window for a week, until the rose petals turn white and transluscent. Strain out the used rose petals and discard them, then decant the rose extract into a clean, sterilized bottle, and keep covered, in a dark place. It should last indefinitely (the alcohol keeps it sterile), and can be used as vanilla or any other flavoring extract is used.
However you use it, roses make a delicate ingredient to add to your tea table recipes!
Copyright 2014, Elizabeth Urbach.
For more information:
“What should I keep in the pantry for tea parties?”
“Easter tea party ideas and tips”
“Tea and the mold-free diet”
“Review: Vital Tea Leaf Angel green tea and Siberian Rose tisane”
“Tea-table recipe: rose-petal jam desserts”
“Iced tea and how to make it”
“What you need to make a good pot of hot tea”
“Enjoy San Jose’s warm weather with a floral tea menu”
“Shrewsbury Cakes: a Regency recipe to eat with tea in San Jose”
Rose Petal Mint Jelly recipe
Rose Petal Jelly recipe
Thumbprint cookies with rose jelly recipe
“Rose petal jam from a Venetian monastery”
“Homemade Rose Syrup, Rose Jam and Drink Concentrate”
“Gardening in the Valley of Heart’s Delight: Rose Jelly”