Recently, I have had an overwhelming urge to make the most of the natural resources around me. Anything growing in my yard (or my neighbor’s yard) has been fair game. Among the many, various, ridiculous things that I have been up to, one of my favorites involves rose petals from the wild, old-fashioned rose bush in my backyard.
This rose bush has those wonderful, fragrant blooms that open all the way up and immediately fall apart. So as much as I would like to bring them inside and put them in a vase, they are terrible roses for cutting because as soon as a bloom opens, it begins to disintegrate.
It turns out that there are more uses for roses than just looking at. Since I’m a fan of the Trader Joes rosewater facial mist, I wondered if that was something that I might be able to make myself. And so, I began down a rabbit-hole of things to make with rose petals. Rose petals are anti-inflammatory and high in antioxidants. That is why they are such a popular ingredient in fancy skincare things. The lovely smell is a plus.
*If you are going to make anything with rose petals, make sure that they haven’t been treated with pesticides.
First, I decided to make rose water. It sounded like a nice thing to do. Rose water can be used directly on the skin or hair and can be ingested. There are two methods for making rose water: extraction and distillation.
Extraction involved putting rose petals and water in a pot and simmering gently. When the rose petals lose their color, your extraction is complete. Strain out the petals and store the finished rose water in the refrigerator. Mine comes out a sort of dark pink/brown color.
The distillation method sounded like it would involve all sorts of equipment and knowledge, but I was delighted to learn can be undertaken at home as well. I felt so science-y! For this technique, put a heat-proof bowl in the center of a pot, then surround it with rose petals and water (I used roughly equal parts fresh rose petals and water). Place the lid on upside down and place ice packs on top. This encourages the condensation to collect in the bowl in the center of the pot. Again, a low simmer is best and once the petals have lost their color, you’re done.
Here’s the thing about distillation: it yields much less rose water although it is clear and said to be of higher quality.
What I consider a bonus is that you still wind up with a good amount of extracted rose water in the pot, so you might as well save that too.
I’ve been using my rose water as a toner and my skin loves it, especially if I’ve gotten a bit too much sun.
Next, I took rose water one step further and made rose syrup. I followed the extraction method then immediately added sugar to the warm, strained rose water (one-part sugar to two-parts rosewater worked for me) and stirred until it was dissolved.
This produced a delicious smelling if still unattractive brown-ish result. But when used for a cocktail it creates a delightfully pink drink.
Rose-y Gin Drink (help me come up with a better name please!)
- 2-parts gin
- 1-part fresh lime juice
- 1-part rose syrup
- Shake with ice
- Serve up
Rose syrup is a common ingredient in Persian desserts (rose ice cream for one, which I do intend to attempt soon). There are probably also fun ways to use it in baking which I probably won’t get around to for a while.
Of course, I have also been drying rose petals so that I will have a supply handy when needed. I have only begun to scratch the surface of uses for rose petals!