2012 The Year of the Rose

This year we honor the rose as the herb of the year. Perhaps you think of the rose only as a beautiful fragrant flower, but it is much more than that. The definiton of an herb is that it is a plant valued for flavor, scent, medicinal use, and having other qualities. There are many qualities that the rose is known for that characterizes it as an herb.
First, the rose, because of its beauty is the most popular flower purchased on Valentine’s Day. Roses are found in a variety of colors and each color means something different. The red rose signifies immortal love, the yellow joy and mature love, white stands for purity, and pink for innocence. The most popular rose is the red rose.
Secondly, there are many uses of roses. Some of the uses for roses are in lotions and creams, in perfumes and pot pourris, as decorations for cakes and other foods, and also the rose is actually used in cooking. There are many recipes for using rose petals and rose water. Some of the recipes I found use roses in making jellies, syrups, sauces, butters, vinegars, teas, cakes, soups and ice cream. In many Asian and Mideastern and African countries, roses are used to flavor foods much as we use cinnamon and vanilla here in the USA. A popular tea is rose petal tea.
Recipe: Rose Petal Tea Makes one quart
1/2 cup tightly packed rose petals*
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 orange, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 quart water
Place rose petals, nutmeg, sugar and chopped orange into a pitcher. Pour boiling water over petals and steep for five minutes. Strain. Serve hot or cold. If using pink petals, the tea will have a fine flavor and a nice dark pink color.
*When using roses for food, they should be free of pesticides, fungicides, and fertilizers. Florists’ roses have been sprayed with pesticides and should not be used as food. Many have been imported from third world countries where pesticides and other chemicals are used.
The best roses to use for food are the fragrant, old-fashioned or antique roses such as the Cabbage Rose, Rose Gallica, and Damask Rose.
When using rose petals as food, always cut away the white portion at the base of each rose. This imparts a bitter flavor to foods and beverages.