Rachel Lambert: forager, author, guide

How to Make Wild Rose Water

I love roses, and of course they are also one of the many symbols of love. Here in the UK we have several wild varieties and the cultivated ones are, almost, infinite.

After a hot, sunny day, I particularly love to be overcome by the scent of roses; 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 here I share an easy process you can do at home.

My favourite rose to use is Rosa Rugosa, or Japanese Rose, it is abundant in coastal areas, so is perfect where I live. However I recommend experimenting with different roses and, literally, stopping to smell the roses, following your nose until you find your perfect one.

Before I share how to make wild rose water, a note on picking rose petals. This is essential to 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), these will have the most mature scent
  • 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.



Fresh rose petals

Boiling water


Roughly chop the petals and place in a measuring jug, packing the petals down as tightly as possible. Pour over just enough boiling water to cover the petals. The petals will float to the top so be sure to stir them back in. Cover the jug and set aside for 48 hours, you can leave for just 24 hours, though the extra day will extract extra flavour. Strain the liquid through muslin into sterilised bottles, making sure you squeeze out every last drop of the water and store in the fridge in sterilised bottles, or freeze in ice-cube trays. Use within 3 months.

Read here 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 plants; flowers, leaves, fruits, shoots, roots and seeds and share many more tips and recipes.

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