You’re Reading The First Of A Weekly Series Featuring My Favourite Plants and Herbs, Along With The Simple Ways That I Use Them!
>>>Featured This Week: Roses
In addition to being rich in vitamins A, B, E and K, roses are full of potassium and high in iron. I prefer hardy roses to hybrids; they require less maintenance and are equally as stunning and beneficial as their fussier counterparts.
In the summertime as the roses bloom, I collect the petals to make a rose hydrosol. A rose hydrosol is essentially a water-infusion. You get all of the water-soluble nutrients and plant acids in a less concentrated form than essential oil, but stronger than if in a tea.
To make a hydrosol you’ll need:
- a medium/large sized pot with a dome-shaped lid
- a smaller tempered glass jar that is about half the diameter of the pot
- a canning ring
- ice cubes
- Place the jar on top of the canning ring in the center of the pot.
- Scatter the petals around the jar but not inside it.
- Fill the pot with enough water to submerge the petals. Make sure you don’t get water inside the jar in the center of the pot.
- Place the lid, upside down, on the pot and place ice cubes on top of it.
- Bring the water up to a simmer. As the water heats up, condensation will form on the underside of the lid, and if you have the right dome-shaped lid, it will migrate to the center and drip into the glass jar. The petals will begin to lose their color as the water from the pot is distilled into the jar. This is your rose hydrosol! This is the same process you would use to create any hydrosol and the possibilities are endless- you could do this with mint or lavender, lemon balm, calendula, etc.
- If you are using mildly aromatic roses, you can repeat these steps over the summer, reusing the same water with new petals, to get a more concentrated rose hydrosol over time. You can freeze your rose hydrosol in ice-cube trays and store the frozen cubes in a bag in your freezer.
I like to add rose hydrosol ice cubes to lemonades or other summertime drinks- and they make an awesome boozy slushy if you blend them with vodka and your favourite fruit juices! Citrus compliments the rose flavour well!
Throughout the summer I keep my rose hydrosol in a small spritzer bottle to use as a post-sun facial spritz; or, to soothe a burn, I use the frozen cubes directly on affected areas.
- A couple of frozen rose hydrosol cubes tossed into a bath tub with epsom salts boosts a boring bath and will give you some love for sore summer skin, too.
Rose Petal Jam
Something I haven’t yet tried is using rose petals or hips for making jam or jelly. I found a recipe for rose petal jam at here at HunterGathererForager.com that I am looking forward to trying this summer. I like the suggestion to omit the pectin and use as a syrup- how decadent that would be over a slice of cheesecake! I’ll be sure to update with photos this year after I give this a shot!
After you spend the summer gathering the petals and enjoying lush skin care and rosy summertime treats, roses bushes will be full of hips prime for picking. Rose-hips are easy to harvest and save, and they make a yummy addition to a wintertime herbal tea.
To Harvest Rose-Hips:
Pick the rose-hips and allow them to dry in a brown paper bag in a dark cool spot or, if you’re impatient, use a dehydrator. Some people express concern about the presence of cyanide in rose seeds. Removal of the seeds isn’t necessary but I prefer to do so just because they do not lend any flavour or health benefits to rose-hip tea.
To separate the seeds from the hips, gently crush the hips to open them up and use a screen with holes large enough to catch the pieces of rose-hips while allowing the smaller seeds to fall through.
You could also just leave the seeds intact, as I haven’t found any evidence that suggests this precaution is necessary to safely enjoy rose-hip tea.
I really enjoy rose-hip and lemon balm tea with honey. If I still have rose hydrosol left from summer, I’ll add it to my tea, too!
If you’re not motivated to buy yourself a rose bush but want to give some of these ideas a try, worry not! You don’t even have to grow them yourself to be able to enjoy the many ways to use them! Roses grow wild and you’re also most certainly likely to find roses planted in public places like parks and municipal properties, outside of businesses and along boulevards.
Roses are quite easily propagated using cuttings with a root growth hormone such as this, or you can place the cutting in a jar of water along with several small willow branches. Willow is naturally rich in rooting hormone and will encourage your rose cutting to grow roots.
Get outside and find a rose bush to love up! And come back next Wednesday for Part 2 of the Plants And Their Uses Series!