Beautiful June is the month of roses and the rose is the Herb of the Year. That makes this the perfect year to have fun with your roses! When your most fragrant roses are in full bloom, gather up your best friends, grandchildren or neighbors and have a rose playday. Make rose water, rose syrup, rose tea, rose vinegar and rose-petal jam. Begin a rose potpourri. At the end of the day set a date for an elegant Rose luncheon or afternoon Rose Tea so you can all enjoy the fruits of your rosey labors in style.
The best roses for kitchen use are rugosas and old fashioned shrub roses. Florist roses and hybrid tea roses have little to no flavor and are usually covered with toxins.
There are three important rose-eating rules to follow.
1. Never use roses that have been treated with pesticides, fungicides or chemical fertilizers.
2. Pick fully open, highly fragrant roses in the morning, after the dew has begun to dry, usually about 10 AM.
Partially opened flowers and buds haven’t developed full flavor yet.
3. Snip the white triangular tip off each rose petal before beginning a recipe. This is called “heeling”. The white tip is bitter and, if not removed, will detract from the rose flavor of your recipe.
Rose Water, the simplest of all rose recipes to make, traces back several thousand years. It is a widely used condiment in the Mid-East.
HINT: If your tap water has a strong taste, use bottled water so the full flavor and fragrance of the roses is not obscured.
Put 2 cups of prepared rose petals into a pottery, china or stainless steel bowl. Pour 4 cups of boiling water over the petals. Cover. Let sit for 5-6 hours. Strain the liquid from the petals, pressing on the petals to remove all the flavor. Store the rose water in a glass jar with a screw-on lid. Refrigerate.
Rose water is a refreshing body splash on hot days. It adds delicate flavor to a lightly dressed salad of summer berries and greens and is the key ingredient in rose syrup.
Rose Syrup Stir together 2 cups of rose water and one cup of white sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Reduce heat to low. Stir gently until a syrup forms, about 15 minutes. The longer you simmer the thicker the syrup will become.
Pour the syrup into a glass jar with a screw top. Store in the refrigerator. Drizzle rose syrup over ice cream, fruit yogurt or pound cake. Yum!
Rose Petal Yogurt This cooling summer treat comes from an English cookbook, Hedgerow Cookery, by Rosalind Richardson.
Put 12 ounces of your favorite yogurt into a blender. Add the prepared petals of one fragrant rose. If the yogurt isn’t sweetened, add sugar, honey or a berry jam to taste. Blend until silky smooth. Pour into an ice cube tray and freeze. Serve frozen on a hot summer day.
The following deliciously simple recipes come from Jim Long
(Jim Long<email@example.com>) owner, and innovative chef, of Longcreek Herb Farm in Blue Eye, Mo.
Rose Petal Vinegar Fill a quart canning jar with prepared, fragrant rose petals. Completely cover the petals with white wine, white balsamic, unseasoned rice or champagne vinegar. Screw on the lid. Set on the kitchen counter. Shake once a day for 4 days. Strain out the petals and add 1 tablespoon of light brown sugar. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Store in a dark place until needed.
Roses in a Glass Pour two ounces of rose petal vinegar into a glass filled with crushed ice. Fill the glass with club soda. Add a twist of lemon and a mint sprig. Tart, rosey and refreshing.
Mom’s Rose Sandwiches Spread softened cream cheese on 1/2 inch slices of angel cake. Cover each slice of cake with fragrant, prepared rose petals. Press two pieces of cake together to make sandwiches. Cut each sandwich into finger sandwiches.
Rose Petal Tea Pour 4 cups boiling water over one bag of black tea and one cup of prepared, fragrant rose petals.
steep for 5 minutes. Strain and serve. Now, plan that rosy party and enjoy!
A GARDENING HEADS-UP : The vegetable patch has returned to many gardens in the last year or so. With 6-8 hours of full sun and a composted, well-drained bed, it’s pretty easy to grow delicious vegetables. However, sometimes head-scratching problems arise. If that happens, call the library and borrow a copy of What’s Wrong with My Vegetable Garden? 100% Organic Solutions for All Your Vegetables. Published in 2011 by Timber Press, authors David Deardoff and Kathryn Wadsworth have done an excellent job of identifying and solving common vegetable garden problems using all organic methods.