Exquisite and fragrant, genus Rosa, in the family Rosaceae, is associated with alluring beauty and love. It is well versed in mythology, poetry, literature, religion, folklore, art, and songs. Let us not forget the result of eating Rose Petal Sauce in the novel, Like Water for Chocolate, by Laura Esquivel.
All roses are edible, and are in the same family as apples, quinces, apricots, and raspberries, as well as ornamental trees and shrubs such as hawthorns. However, by law, there are only certain Rosa species recognized for use in the food, drug and cosmetic industry, such as heirloom or wild varieties like the Apothecary’s Rose. Hybrid roses, bred for ornamental purposes lack the properties needed for culinary, medicinal and cosmetic purposes.
All indigenous cultures believe the physical, mental and spiritual being be treated wholistically. The rose is regarded as good for the body and the soul.
The aroma of rose rubs at the heart, and amuses the mind. It encourages feelings of positive self-reflection. It helps to centre and bring harmony with stimulating and uplifting properties, creating a sense of well-being and self-confidence.
It can be used as an elixir, similar to Rescue Remedy, to soothe, uplift, and de-stress. It can be used to relieve depression, anxiety, grief, heartbreak, stress and trauma.
Originated in Persia, rose oil (attar of roses), used in perfumes, is made by steam-distilling the crushed petals of roses into volatile essential oils. Making rose oil requires a distiller and takes about 2,000 flowers to make one gram of oil. A by-product of the distilling is rose water, used in cooking, cosmetics, medicine and religious practices.
Rose water has a very distinctive aroma and flavour, renowned in Persian and Middle Eastern cuisine. It is also used in European and Asian cuisine to flavour dairy, drink, and confectionary and savoury dishes.
Rose hips are high in vitamin C, with R. Rugosa, Canina, and Chinensis as the best producer of hips. Vitamin C boosts the immune system, promotes healthy skin and bones, and helps the body absorb iron. The leaves, petals, hips, and roots were used by the Indigenous People of Canada to treat various ailments
Rose hips can be made into jams, soups, pies, wine, bread, syrups or tisane.
Rose is used extensively in Traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic Medicine. Chinese Traditional Medicine believes rosebud tisane has beautifying benefits for the skin and balances PH level issues, which causes breakouts. The leaves, petals, hips, and roots were used by the Indigenous People of Canada to treat various ailments such as eye inflammation. In medieval gardens, roses were grown more for medicine and food than for beauty. Benefits include easing constipation, relieving indigestion, helping blood circulation, aiding in healing wounds, and it is high in antioxidants.
Note: Eat only pesticide-free roses, and not from florist or commercial vendor, which are sprayed with chemicals and are not as aromatic. If you do not have access to fresh roses, you can either buy dried rose petals or rose hips in Asian or Middle Eastern markets or online. Do make sure they are for culinary usages, and not artificially scented and dyed.
Harvest roses in the early morning after the dew dries, and before the hot sun hits. Rose leaves can be brewed into teas. Rose hips are harvested in the Fall and Winter, after the first frost, when the hips are sweeter.
Some say the white ends of rose petals is bitter. You may wish to cut them off. I don't bother with this task; and I honestly can't find a difference in taste. Please note that the scent of roses and rose water varies, so adjust recipe accordingly.
A versatile syrup used for enhancing any sweet dish, including Rose Lassi
2 cup organic cane sugar
2 cup water
1 cup dried rose petals or 3 cups fresh rose petals
1-2 cardamom pods (optional)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp rose water (optional)
Make simple syrup by combining sugar and water in a saucepan. Simmer and stir until sugar dissolves. Add the petals and continue to simmer for 7 more minutes. Remove pan from heat and add lemon juice. Let the syrup and petals steep for 30 minutes. Strain through cheesecloth or a fine strainer. Pour into bottle and refrigerate.
Tip: if using dried rose petals, infuse the roses for 24 hours in the syrup before straining and the colour should be more vibrant. The ph of the lemon juice will restore the original colour.
You can still make rose syrup without roses, with only rose water. Adjust accordingly to taste.
Stay tune for more Rose recipes!
Rachel conducts gardening, culinary and fermenting workshops/retreats at her home on 100 acres in Northern Ontario, Canada, where she lives in creative harmony with nature. Rachel’s mission is to ensure the wisdom of our ancestors is preserved for future generations.
Images ©2002-2019 Rachel Thoo