For the past few years, I’ve been making rose syrup in the Dalmatian way, which involves layering the petals with sugar, and leaving them out in the sunshine for a few weeks. The syrup is wonderfully fragrant, and can be used in so many ways for desserts, cordials, cocktails and baking. This year, I’ve decided to go in a slightly different direction, inspired by a Rose Mint Herbal Tea that I’ve been enjoying.
A chat with an Indian friend gave me a different perspective, as to how dried rose petals are used in eastern cuisine, along with other herbs and spices. Not just in tea, but in preparing fragrantly delicious salads, cooked dishes, desserts and sweets. Incidently, Suruchi has started a blog on wine history, which is another topic of great interest for us here at GoHvar! But back to rose petals.
In search of more ideas about using rose petals in the kitchen, I browsed the wonderfully inspiring site of Gayla Trail (You Grow Girl). So many tasty ideas there! It seems that you can either leave your rose petals out in the sun to dry, or buy a dehydrator. It saves time, and retains the colour and fragrance better. I’m sure it also prevents your petals from blowing away across the garden again! So I bought a small dehydrator, taking care that it had a very low temperature setting, which is recommended for flower petals and herbs. This is its first time out, so I’m feeling my way here!
Picking the roses in the morning to get them at their freshest, I distributed the petals across the 6 layers of the dehydrator, taking care to separate them out a bit. No leaves, centres , stems or creepy crawlies! With the temperature at its lowest mark (95° F/35°C), I plugged it in and set my timer for 3 hours.
Well, that wasn’t nearly enough! After about 6 hours, I reversed the order of the layers top to bottom and wished the thing had an automatic timer control! I unplugged it overnight, me being a careful sort of person, and restarted again the next morning. By mid-morning I had my dried rose petals!
They look so pretty, colourful and rather darker than the original roses, and take up much less space! My big bowl of roses now fits into a medium-sized jar. The idea is to store the petals whole, and only break them up or grind them immediately before use. So far, I’m simply admiring my jar of dried petals, but looking forward to exploring some uses for them.
By the way, I notice on the internet many warnings about not using flowers and plants that have been sprayed for any of these culinary uses. Since I never spray my roses with anything other than water in case of aphids, I’m in good shape. Something to beware of, though, if you’re going to try this yourself!