Rachel Lambert: forager, author, guide
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Jar of homemade rose preserve

I used to walk round my Granny’s garden and smell the roses, my sisters and I used to snap off her runner beans and eat them raw too. Luckily for Granny, I didn’t know that roses were edible then, though I still love to stop to smell them, whether in a park, someone’s garden or a hedgerow.

Roses make my heart sing, they truly do. From the scent through to the texture of the petals, they are an edible heaven to me. Eat them fresh OR this recipe is ridiculously easy and super good. It was given to me by my colleague Emma Gunn and you can't go wrong with it. Unless you don't like roses.

In this post I share the recipe, explain when to pick roses (and why) which is the best rose to eat (and my favourite) and how to use this delicious rose preserve.

Slice of homemade sponge cake sandwiched with rose preserve

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I love to stop and smell the roses, I love to eat them, cook and garnish with them too. See my wild rose water recipe and rose petal preserve recipe

White Japanese Rose in flower

Which Roses are Edible?

All rose petals are edible and both wild and cultivated roses can be used, though please see my tips for picking below. The most common wild roses in the UK are Dog Rose (Rosa Canina), Field Rose (Rosa Arvenis) and the Japanese Rose (Rosa Rugosa). Each rose has a different scent, so it's well worth smelling before you start picking, and finding your favourite rose types.

Cultivated roses with a good scent can also be used, but make sure they haven't been sprayed first. Some rose petals may have a bitter aftertase too. Petals can be used to decorate cakes, in cold soups, salads, meat dishes or desserts. Here's a few tips before you pick them though;

How to sustainably pick rose petals for using in recipes

  • If you're picking cultivated roses, check: have they been sprayed?
  • You can dry rose petals (then rehydrate them), or use them fresh
  • Are the petals ready to be pluck (do they come away easily)?
  • Petals that are ready to pick may have already fallen, or come away easily when touched (see below)
  • Only pick the petals, never the whole flower-head (so the fruits can ripen later in the year)

In early summer and summer I may include roses in my foraging courses, and in the autumn I include the fruits of roses; the rosehips.

Here's my Rosehip Tart recipe, and also my Rosehip Fruit leather recipe, both are delicious and full of vitamin C. Finally, I also share my Wild Rosehip Chocolates recipe (great for valentines!).

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