Where I grew up, roses belonged in the pantry. Between the rose preserves, the rose syrups, and the rose water in pastry dough, the aristocratic flowers doubled up as bona fide cooking ingredients.

What do roses taste like? They are a bit of an acquired taste. Rose preserves are extremely fragrant, they make you feel almost like you are eating perfume, and their principal ingredient, the delicate petals, vigorously scrubbed with sugar and lemon until their velvety surfaces become thin and translucent like rice paper, screech between your teeth refusing to be chewed. Their consistence reminds me of cellophane.

The confection is very concentrated, you can’t eat more than one delightful teaspoon at a time, and it feels almost sinful to taste the ruby colored spoonful of fragrant petals, which seem reserved for beings above the human condition.

The finished preserves, jams and jellies become cooking ingredients in and of themselves, and end up rolled inside crepes and pastries, coloring fine custards and filling beignets.

If you want to try your hand at making rose petal preserves, keep in mind that the rose variety is very important. Only the most fragrant damasks are fitting for this purpose, Kazanlik and Rose de Rescht are traditionally used. I have seen white preserve roses, but I’ve never seen the preserves themselves. The old fashioned confections are almost always a deep ruby, the trademark color of this delightful treat. Rubbing the petals with lemon juice helps maintain the color intensity.

I’m sitting here, sipping a delightful cup of rose petal tea, and it tastes very much like the rose preserves I remember from my childhood. I wonder why I never thought of trying it before.

Author's Bio: 

Main Areas: Garden Writing; Sustainable Gardening; Homegrown Harvest
Published Books: “Terra Two”; “Generations”; "The Plant - A Steampunk Story"; "Letters to Lelia"; "Fair"; "Door Number Eight"; "A Year and A Day"; "Möbius' Code"; "Between Mirrors"
Career Focus: Author; Consummate Gardener;
Affiliation: All Year Garden; The Weekly Gardener; Francis Rosenfeld's Blog

I started blogging in 2010, to share the joy of growing all things green and the beauty of the garden through the seasons. Two garden blogs were born: allyeargarden.com and theweeklygardener.com, a periodical that followed it one year later. I wanted to assemble an informal compendium of the things I learned from my grandfather, wonderful books, educational websites, and my own experience, in the hope that other people might use it in their own gardening practice.