Before the vitamin C-packed rosehips develop later in the summer, we gather the fragrant petals from the flowers. The best time of day to gather the flower petals is late morning or early afternoon. They open each morning, become dusted with pollen around noon, and will drop their petals by late evening, leaving the pollinated and developing hip behind. By gently grasping the whole flower head with your hand and tugging the petals, you will often get most of the petals off easily. The hardest part is avoiding the prickers, and there is often poison ivy growing among the bushes, so be mindful and wear shoes and maybe even jeans when picking.
|Thickets of white and pink flowered roses line the shore|
The petals contain the lovely rose smell, and are edible raw as a pretty garnish in salads. They can be added to cookie dough, like shortbread, for color and flavor. We also use them to make this wildly beautiful syrup, which we then use to add to seltzer for flavor, as a flavored syrup at breakfast, add to mixed cocktails like simple syrup, and as a base for a floral sorbet. At first, the color will be a dull purple, but adding the ascorbic acid powder will create the intense pink and preserve the syrup. We buy bulk powdered ascorbic acid from the local vitamin shop, it is more commonly known as vitamin C. You could use this recipe for roses you have in your yard, as long as you have not sprayed the roses with chemicals. Many hybridized and domesticated roses no longer have the heady fragrance of wild roses, though, so we prefer the wild roses for this recipe.
Rose Petal Syrup makes about 4 cups of syrup
2 1/4 c. water
3 c. granulated sugar
2 c. packed rose petals, coarsely chopped
3 Tbsp. ascorbic acid powder
1. Heat the water to boiling and add the sugar. Remove from the heat, and stir until the sugar dissolves.
2. Allow the sugar syrup to cool to 80°F, then stir in the chopped rose petals. Cover the pot and let the flowers steep in the syrup for 24 hours.
3. Filter out the flowers and squeeze them well to extract all the flavor. Filter the syrup through a fine mesh coffee filter.
4. Remove 1 cup of the syrup, and warm it in a saucepan. Add the ascorbic acid, using a whisk to dissolve it. Add the warmed syrup back to the remainder, and mix it all well.
5. Store in airtight, sterilized glass containers in a dark place, up to a year.