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Beautiful Edibles: Nutritious, Delicious Roses

We know that roses make beautiful gardens and flower arrangements, and you may have even used petals for potpourri or tried your hand at making perfume. However, whatever experience you have with these fragrant flowers, you may not know they are also good for food.

Eating flowers is not uncommon. Nasturtiums and pansies are added to salads, squash blossoms are stuffed with meats and cheeses, and Asian cultures have added lilies and chrysanthemums to dishes for generations.

Roses are related to apples; this is why rose hips – their seedpods – can grow to be the size and shape of crabapples. When they are ripe, they display brilliant fall colors: red, orange, burgundy, and purple.

Rose hips are packed with vitamin C, which is why they are often added to commercial vitamins. They can be made into jams, jellies, and pies. Rose petals can be added to salads, candies, jellies, and wine, too.

Recipes

Preparing rose hips: Pick ripe rose hips after the first hard frost of fall. Frost helps to sweeten their flavor. To prepare them, trim off the stem and blossom ends, cut in half, remove seeds, and wash well.

Don’t forget that if you are planning to consume foods made with rose hips or rose petals, you should keep your roses pesticide free.

Rose Hip Jam

(from the 1700s- great to eat when you have a sore throat)

  • 4 quarts prepared rose hips (about a pound)
  • 1 cup of water
  • 4 cups of sugar (or more to taste)

In a large pan, add rose hips and water. Bring to boil. Cover and simmer until soft (about twenty minutes). Add more water if needed. Press through a sieve to reduce large pieces and to remove any remaining seeds. Add 3½ to 4 cups of sugar and simmer. Check the jam for flavor, adding more sugar if desired. Cook until mixture has thickened to jam-like consistency. Pour into sterilized jars and seal.

Rose Hip Puree

(from the 1500s)

  • 1½ cups prepared rose hips
  • ¾ cup of water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ginger
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

In a large, heavy pan, simmer rose hips in water until soft (about 10 to 15 minutes). Stir in sugar, spices, and lemon juice. Simmer five minutes. Use in tarts, as a topping for ice cream, or eat it like applesauce.

Rose Hip Tea

Take prepared rose hips and spread in a single layer on a drying screen or baking sheet covered with waxed paper. Let dry completely. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. The hips may be used whole or slightly broken. Pour boiling water over the hips and steep for 2-3 minutes, then strain. The tea can be served with a bit of honey or stevia if sweetness is desired.

Rose Water

  • 1 cup rose petals
  • 1 cup of water

Place ingredients in a small saucepan and boil 10 minutes. Steep overnight, covered. Strain and store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Rose Petal Flan

Topping:

  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of water

Custard:

  • 2 cups milk
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon rose water
  1. Place the sugar and water for the topping in a small, thick-bottomed pan. Heat over medium heat. As sugar begins to melt, stir gently with wooden spoon to break up lumps. When the sugar has melted, it will turn golden brown, then a darker brown. When it has turned reddish-brown, remove it from the heat. Working quickly, divide between four individual custard dishes, coating bottoms. Place all the custard dishes in a two-inch deep baking dish half-filled with hot water.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, mix milk and sugar. Heat until sugar is completely dissolved, but do not boil. Beat eggs in medium-sized bowl with the vanilla and rose water. Pour a small amount of milk into egg mixture to temper the eggs – about ¼ cup. Add the egg mixture to the milk and sugar mixture slowly. Cook over low heat, whisking continually, for two minutes or until the egg mixture is fully incorporated.
  3. Pour the custard into the individual dishes over the caramel topping.
  4. Bake on the oven’s middle rack until a knife inserted into the center of the custard comes out clean (about 45 minutes). Place custard dishes on cooling rack and cool until room temperature. Once room temperature, chill flan until cold (about two hours.
  5. Run a knife around the edge of the dish to loosen and turn out onto a plate. If necessary, shake gently to release the flan. Flan can be warmed slightly (15-20 seconds in a microwave) to aid in releasing. Repeat for all. This recipe can be made up to three days in advance.

Candied Rose Petals

  • 1/3 cup of water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Rose petals
  • Powdered sugar
  1. In a saucepan mix water, sugar, and vanilla. Bring to a boil over high heat. Lower heat to medium. Stir until sugar is dissolved, then stir no more. Occasionally brush sides of pan with mixture to clean up the crystallized sugar. Continue boiling caramel slowly until it reaches 280°F (hard ball stage).
  2. Remove the petals from the roses as the caramel cools.
  3. Prepare a hot water bath where you will have a bowl holding the finished caramel you are dipping petals into – this will keep caramel at a workable temperature for a longer period of time.
  4. Pour the caramel into the bowl that is resting in the hot water. Allow the caramel to cool 3-5 minutes. Initially it will be hot enough to cook the petals instantly. After it cools just a bit, you will be able to dip petals quickly into the caramel without them bubbling. This is perfect.
  5. Using tweezers, dip each side of the petals, one at a time, into caramel. Immediately drag petal on a ceramic plate to thin the caramel. Straighten petal out so it is laying flat. Repeat for all your petals.
  6. Cool and dry petals about 5 minutes. Carefully pick them up, one by one, with tweezers – excess caramel should come off. Sift a light layer of powdered sugar on each side of the petals. Let the petals air dry 24 hours.

Rose Petal Butter

  • 1 cup of fresh rose petals
  • ¾ cup butter

Let the butter sit at room temperature until soft. While the butter is softening, chop the rose petals very fine. Stir into the butter, then cover bowl and refrigerate at least 24 hours to allow flavor from the petals to permeate the butter thoroughly. Butter will be edible – if refrigerated – for two weeks. It may be frozen for 3 to 4 months.

There are many more recipes for rose hips and petals. I even saw a menu for a Mother’s Day brunch with an emphasis on rose petal dishes. So experiment with your roses, make some of these tasty treats, and try creating a few of your own.

Happy gardening and feasting!

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