NZ House & Garden - - THE BIG IDEA -

the rose sea­son in full bloom, why not think be­yond cut flow­ers and try your hand at mak­ing a batch of hand­crafted rose­wa­ter? Its del­i­cate, fem­i­nine flavour is most fa­mil­iar in sweets and desserts, but rose­wa­ter can also add an in­trigu­ing flo­ral note to savoury recipes, as seen in north­ern African and Per­sian cuisines.

All rose petals are ed­i­ble, although some are more palat­able than oth­ers and it is im­por­tant to source un­sprayed flow­ers since agri­cul­tural chem­i­cals can trans­fer to your food. As a gen­eral rule, the smaller the petal, the more del­i­cate and sweeter the flavour will be. Small blooms are there­fore the best op­tion should you want to use the petals fresh, such as in a salad.

An­other rule to re­mem­ber is the stronger the per­fume of the rose va­ri­ety, the more po­tent the rose­wa­ter.

The best time to har­vest blooms from your gar­den is late morn­ing, once the morn­ing dew has evap­o­rated. En­joy them as cut flow­ers for a few days if you like, then, as the flower heads open fully, care­fully pluck the petals for pro­cess­ing. If you don’t have ac­cess to fresh roses, dried rose petals from spe­cialty food stores are an op­tion.

Fol­low­ing are two ways to make rose­wa­ter. The first method uses dis­til­la­tion, which re­moves all im­pu­ri­ties from the wa­ter so it will keep for around three months in a cool cup­board. The sec­ond method is much quicker and sim­pler, how­ever your cre­ation will need to be kept chilled and will last about a month, as the wa­ter will con­tain some im­pu­ri­ties. With this method, the colour of the rose­wa­ter will be clear even if us­ing dark petals, as it is the evap­o­rated wa­ter that con­tains the essence of the roses. First set up the home-made dis­tillery. Place rose petals in the large pan, spread­ing them around the edge. Nes­tle the heat­proof bowl in the mid­dle so it is sit­ting on the base of the pan, mak­ing sure no petals are caught un­der­neath. There should be a 1-2cm space be­tween the edge of the bowl and the pan.

Pour the boil­ing wa­ter over the petals, tak­ing care not to get any in the bowl. If the bowl be­gins to float, place an­other bowl in­side to hold it still.

Cover the pan with the plate to cre­ate an in­verted lid and bring to a gen­tle sim­mer. As the wa­ter sim­mers, steam will rise and col­lect as con­den­sa­tion on the in­verted plate then drip into the bowl (a sim­i­lar process to drip stew, if you’ve ever made that).

Once most of the wa­ter in the pan has dis­tilled and col­lected in the bowl, the rose­wa­ter is ready (be care­ful not to burn the petals). Take off the heat and de­cant the dis­tilled rose­wa­ter into a clean bot­tle. Store in a cool, dark pantry or cup­board for up to 3 months. Makes about 250ml The colour of the petals will de­ter­mine the colour of this rose­wa­ter, for ex­am­ple deep ma­roon flow­ers will cre­ate a dark wa­ter (as pic­tured). Be care­ful to strain the fin­ished rose­wa­ter well, as resid­ual petals re­duce shelf life. Strain­ing through cheese­cloth will pre­vent this. Re­move petals from stems and place into a colan­der. Gen­tly wash un­der luke­warm wa­ter to re­move any dirt or in­sects.

Trans­fer petals to a saucepan and cover with the boil­ing wa­ter. Bring to a gen­tle boil and sim­mer, un­cov­ered, un­til petals have lost their colour, around 2025 min­utes (if us­ing light-coloured petals this will not be so ob­vi­ous so go by the sug­gested time in­stead).

Strain rose­wa­ter through a fine sieve or clean cheese­cloth into a jug then de­cant into a clean bot­tle. Makes about 300ml

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