It's Rose Petal Time! My friend PJ and her lovely, precocious 4 year old granddaughter, Londyn, and I went urban foraging the other day. PJ has been doing so for years, incorporating her finds into her beautiful gourmet creations. I'm going to tell you right now that her Rose Petal Jelly is to die for, closely followed by her candied ginger.
Out we went into the wilds of Vancouver, bags and snips in hand, on a slow, rambling walk, in search of rose and lavender flowers. PJ taught Londyn to look for flowers that were in their full bloom and scent, just at the edge of making that turn into flower death. After a tearful encounter with some thorns, we looked for ones at her height that she could pick easily and thorn-free. She quickly caught on, saying "Londyn height" before harvesting each rose, while we harvested ones from taller locations. The three of us stopped and smelled the roses, literally, watched the geese and tug boats and made sure one of us wasn't too close to the water for danger of falling in. Mimi (PJ) and Auntie Lion (me) are terrible swimmers!
Now off to the kitchen! Here are four beautiful things that can be done with these incredible, fragrant gifts from Nature.
1. Drying Flower Petals
Gather roses that are in their full bloom and have not been sprayed with pesticides. To dry the rose petals, simply spread newspaper, parchment or kraft paper (I used kraft) on a flat surface. Gently separate the petals from the stems. Make sure there are no stems or bugs in your petals. Spread the petals evenly across your paper and let them air dry. They should be ready in a few days. Store them in an airtight container once they're dried.
If you don't have days to wait, place the petals in a single layer on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake the petals for 10 minutes at 170°F or until the petals are crisp and break easily (like potato chips). If your petals are still soft, bake for a couple of more minutes, remove, and recheck the crispy factor. Cool the petals completely and store them in an airtight container.
2. Rose Petal Raita
Raita is a fairly usual happening in our house. It's essentially a yogurt based condiment that can be used as a dip, a dressing or a way to cool down a spicy hot curry. And it's a fabulous way to get your acidophilus quotient in. I made this one using the rose petals we foraged. The chives and coriander are fresh from my garden.
500g Greek or Balkan Yogurt (you could use lower fat yogurt, it'll just taste less creamy)
1/2 cup chopped cucumber
1/2 cup chopped coriander
1/3 cup chopped chives
1/4 cup dried or fresh rose petals
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
Salt and Pepper to taste.
Pour yogurt into a bowl. Add the rest of ingredients except salt and pepper. Stir in. Taste. Now add the salt and pepper according to your taste. Serve garnished with coriander leaves and rose petals.
3. Flower Petal Salad
It's BBQ season! What better way to enjoy the gifts from the grill with a lovely flower petal salad? This recipe uses Chive flowers, those beautiful purple, round flowers that top chives, they have a subtle onion flavour. Rose petals give the salad some sweetness. Both a complemented beautifully by a light vinaigrette.
4 cups greens of your choice. You could use kale, baby spinach, arugula...the possibilities are endless!
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1 medium carrot grated
Flower Petals from 2 roses
Flower petals from 2 chive flowers
For The Vinaigrette
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp raw honey or maple syrup
1/4 cup olive oil extra virgin
sea salt and ground pepper to taste
Tear or cut greens into bite-sized pieces. Combine remaining salad ingredients in a bowl. In separate bowl, mix together the white wine vinegar and honey (or maple syrup). Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Dress the salad with the vinaigrette. Enjoy!
4. Rose Marzipan Tea
One of my favourite teas from the Granville Island Tea Company is their Rose Marzipan, a delicately flavoured rose and almond black tea. Black tea, one of the most consumed beverages in the world, has a number of health benefits. So here we go, with some of its super powers.
Black tea contains:
• polyphenols which have antioxidant properties. Consuming antioxidants may help decrease the risk of chronic disease and improve your overall health.
• flavonoids, which are beneficial for heart health. Studies have found that regularly drinking black tea may help reduce the risk of heart disease.
• LDL is a ipoproteins that carries cholesterol throughout the body. Too much LDL in the body can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. Studies have found that black tea may help reduce LDL levels.
• Polyphenols and antimicrobial properties found in black tea may help improve gut health and immunity.
High in Vitamin C, A and E Rose petals have been used for centuries to boost the immune system, improve digestion, relieve menstrual cramps and reduce stress and anxiety. The added bonus is that Rose tea has skin benefits. It can help hydrate and tighten the skin, reduce the appearance of wrinkles and dark circles as well as support the production of collagen which is vital for the health of your skin and hair.
Almond extract is full of proteins, vitamin E and b-6 and essential minerals. It, like roses, also improves digestion, and is beneficial to the immune system, hair and skin.
So when life gets to you, keep calm and have a cuppa!
2/3 cup of Black Tea leaves
6 teaspoons pure almond extract, food grade
2 cup of dried rose petals
Place your tea leaves in a bowl and add the almond extract. Mix it well into the leaves using a spoon or your very, very clean and sanitized fingers. Add the rose petals and, with that trusty spoon, mix the petals in, making sure they are evenly distributed. Put into an air tight bottle and allow the flavours to infuse the tea leaves.