Monday, July 7, 2014

A Rose by Any Other Name...

…still tastes as sweet!

Roses have been used as food and medicine for centuries – like at least back to First Century Greece. Rose petals and rose hips were collected and eaten in Britain during WWII because of the food shortages there. The hips especially are high in several vitamins, especially Vitamin C. But the best thing about them is the taste. Different varieties of roses used to have different scents and thus different flavors, but the modern hybridized roses tend to all smell and taste alike and have much less odor and flavor than the old ones. Another example of progress. Sigh.

Whatever roses you use, be sure that they haven’t been sprayed. Most roses have been well doused with pesticides, which you probably don’t want to eat. Wild roses, too, may have been sprayed with various chemicals and may have absorbed gas fumes if they are near a road or highway.

When my family moved to Idaho, our house had lots of roses out back, and I made rose petal jam and jelly the first summer. We didn’t much like the jam; we found the texture of the rose petals unpleasant. But the WILD ROSE PETAL JELLY was good. The recipe called for wild roses, but we just used the ones in the backyard.

ROSE WATER is used in many Middle Eastern and Indian recipes. You can buy it, but it’s easy to make yourself. Rose Water is an ingredient in the following recipes.

HONEY AND ROSE COOLER is a refreshing and cooling drink, perfect for a hot summer day. For an elegant (and yes, definitely girly!) afternoon snack, serve it with ROSEWATER COOKIES and ROSE PETAL SANDWICHES. Maybe for an engagement party or a shower?

The most unusual recipe I found is for ROSE PETAL PESTO. I don’t have a problem with roses and basil, or even with roses and cheese. But roses and garlic? I’ll leave that one to you. Let me know if you try it and what you think.

Roses can be used in other ways, too. Rose Hip Tea can be made by pouring boiling water over crushed rose hips and letting it steep. A few rose petals can be added to lemonade or to salads. Rose petals can be added to honey or to butter or can be crystalized and used to decorate cakes, cookies, etc. You can find recipes for these and other delicacies online by googling rose recipes.

Don't forget to take time to smell - and taste! - the roses!

Mary Anne

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