Roses are edible flowers. From ancient times they have appeared at feasting tables as bouquets and as food. The flavor of roses is varied as the colors. The sweet, tart or spicy petals are easy to use and popular additions to any kitchen.
Select fresh roses free of pesticides. Preferably the roses should be from your garden or an organic market. Light-color roses are more sweet or light in flavor. Darker roses have more aroma and flavor. Taste a rose petal to decide where it belongs on your menu.
Wash roses by gently swishing them in cool water. Blot them gently with paper towels. Grasp the petals between the thumb and fingers of one hand and the blossom stem in the other hand. Pull out the petals. Discard any blemished petals. Use the petals immediately or store refrigerated in a plastic bag. Use within a few days for best flavor and freshness.
Freeze rose petals in ice cubes. The fast way is fill the water trays and freeze until the ice is slushy, and then tuck in a petal or two. Freeze until solid. The more elegant way is to fill trays half full of water. Freeze. Drop in a rose petal for each cube. Cover petals with a spoonful of water and freeze again. Fill trays with water and freeze. Use rose cubes in lemonade, iced tea or punch.
Make salad days rosy by sprinkling sweet-tasting fresh petals over fruit salads. Mix petals in whipped cream for fruit topping. Sprinkle spicy rose petals on green salads. Add and shake petals with vinegar-oil dressings for aroma and flavor.
Prepare rose butter by mixing a half-cup to 1 cup of chopped rose petals in a cup of sweet unsalted butter. Let the blend stand at room temperature for 24 hours, then mix again and refrigerate to fully flavor the butter. Use this rose butter on bread or warm muffins. Substitute rose butter for regular butter in cookie or cake recipes. This butter refrigerates up to 2 weeks and freezes well.
Infuse rose water by adding 2 cups rose petals to 1 quart water. Bring to a gentle boil, then turn off heat and let cool. Filter out the rose petals and bottle the water. Refrigerate the water for use in ice cubes or tea. Add rose water in place of regular water for gelatins and other desserts.
Garnish with dried rose petals. Spread the petals on a microwave-safe dish or paper plate. Heat them for 1 or 2 minutes until dry. Scatter the small dry petals on everything from appetizers to desserts. Add a dusting of petals to top off vanilla pudding, brownies or ice cream. Sprinkle dry petals on frosted cakes or cupcakes. Have a rosy time in the kitchen!
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Phyllis Benson is a professional writer and creative artist. Her 25-year background includes work as an editor, syndicated reporter and feature writer for publications including "Journal Plus," "McClatchy Newspapers" and "Sacramento Union." Benson earned her Bachelor of Science degree at California Polytechnic University.
Photo by Phyllis Benson