Rachel Lambert: forager, author, guide
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How to Make Wild Rose Water

Dipping shortbreads into wild, homemade rose water

I love scented roses and their symbolism of love. Here in the UK we have several wild varieties and the cultivated ones are, almost, infinite. After a hot, sunny day, the evening aroma of rose and other wild flowers lingers evocatively in the air as the sun goes down. Pure summer heaven, I think.

I could lie in bed reminiscing about their scent, trying to conjure up these smell memories, or I could find other ways to capture and literally bottle the heavenly rose....

Making your own rose water is a wonderful way to enjoy the roses again and again. Each rose is different, not only in scent but in colour, so the range of pink tones can vary hugely too. A more technical and intense process would be distilling the rose, though there is a simpler way.

My favourite rose to use is Beach Rose (Rosa Rugosa), or Japanese Rose. It is abundant in coastal areas and native in east Asia. I recommend experimenting with different roses and, literally, stopping to smell the roses.

Notes on picking rose petals.

This helps look after the roses life-cycle and to ensure that the plant can produce rosehips (fruits) later in the year for animals, birds and humans:

  • Never take more than 1/3
  • Do not take the whole rose head (take just the petals)
  • Take the petals that come away easily in your hand (do not rip or pull them off)
  • You can also pick the petals that have freshly fallen, or even dried (they will still have the scent)

 

How to Make Wild Rose Water

Rose water is a satisfying and simple way to bottle the flavour and colour of roses. This recipe makes a strong rose water, add more water if you want a weaker version. Each rose will have a slightly different scent and colour, I take great pleasure in bottling and seeing different versions in clear glass bottles next to each other.

The full recipe for making Rose Water and Iced Rose Shortbreads (which use homemade rose water) is in my Wild and Sweet cookbook. Along with 100 more foraged dessert recipes and ideas.

Read more about edible roses, which ones to use and how to harvest them; Roses are Red, White, Pink and Edible.

I offer wild food foraging courses where I teach about different seasonal plant; flowers, leaves, fruits, shoots, roots and seeds and share many more tips and recipes.

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