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Roses are among the most popular and well-known flowers for their beauty, brilliant color and fragrance. They are also edible. The petals have a delicate flavor that lends itself well to desserts and rose hips have an amazing sweet-tart flavor that’s well worth braving thorns for.
Flavor in roses varies by variety. I am told that darker-colored, stronger scented roses taste best. I use rosa rugosa because it has nice fat hips and the petals are a by-product and they suit me fine. I will be planting Rosa gallica officinalis (Apothecary Rose) next, and I will then have the opportunity to compare the two.
One thing that’s important when choosing a rose variety to grow in the garden is to consider your choice between single-blooms and double-bloomed varieties. The double-bloomed roses, so popular in the florist’s trade, possess a genetic mutation that causes their sex organs to be converted into petals, so they won’t give you lovely rose hips. They also do not produce pollen so that bees and other pollinators are not benefited by their presence. Of course, if all you really want is pretty flowers and petals, then double-bloomed flowers will give you an abundance of these.
When cooking with rose petals, do not use the roses from your florist because these are often treated with chemicals. You should also avoid highly scented potpourri rose petals, which often have artificial fragrances added. Dried rose petals lose their fragrance quickly.
To make rose-scented sugar, layer rose petals with granulated or confectioners sugar and let them sit for several days in the refrigerator, shaking often to let the sugar pick up the flavor and fragrance of the rose petals. Strain the sugar and repeat with fresh rose petals until you’re satisfied with the light rose essence that the sugar picks up. You can use this rose-scented sugar to sweeten teas or make delicious frosting, whipped cream or ice cream. Rose-scented sugar is a wonderful addition to a sugar jar, especially one related to matters of love and lust.
Rosewater can be added to many recipes and is also for skin care. I like to combine it with witchhazel to make a skin soothing and beauty enhancing rinse.
Rose syrup makes an amazing donut glaze.
Rose petals make tasty jams and jellies to spread over biscuits or glaze cookies – or try a spoonful in plain yogurt.
Dried rose petals make a lovely addition to tea, especially iced tea.
Candied rose petals and rose buds are beautiful and tasty decorations for cakes. They are especially nice on wedding cakes.
Rose petals contain mostly water, so their nutritional value is low. They do have a small amount of vitamin C when fresh.
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