Monday, 10 August 2015

Rose Petal Jam

Rose petal jam is simply one of the loveliest most wonderfully scrumptious things that I have ever made! I was so excited when in early July, I saw roses growing wild practically right in my backyard. And after doing a little research, I was even more surprised by what could be produced with this fragrant flower.

I'm so happy to share this with you! I can't tell you how happy and proud of was of the final product. If you have access to roses, either wild or gardened, I think this is one of most special things you could possibly make. It is a fine and fancy treat and would be perfect for gifting.

Let me start at the beginning, to make my jam, I foraged the petals of the North Eastern Rose, which grows wild all over the island. I've read that this species can be found through Atlantic Canada, as well as Ontario and Quebec. There are so many roses growing wild here, that it took me only a few minutes to collect a whole bucket full of petals! I was so pleased! How often do you have access to pesticide free roses? The smell in our house when I brought them home was remarkable, and if I'd had more time I would have done many more projects. (I was able to candy some in addition to making the jam, and I also tried drying a few, but it didn't work out very well). Hopefully next year I'll have the chance to try making my own homemade rose water!

In this photo that I took while we were out wandering, you can see the roses and how abundant they are. (The foreground is entirely rose bushes).

The colour of the roses varies from a dark fushia to a light almost mauve. The trick when making jelly or jam, is to keep (and use) the roses' natural colour. They have such a stunning blend of shades, and any recipe that suggests you add food colouring to your jam has just got it all wrong! 

To retain colour, combine petals and lemon juice. If a recipe suggests that you boil the petals, then strain and add the lemon juice and sugar afterwards, you'll be pouring away all that lovely colour and the result will be a slighly brownish jelly. 

To make rose petal jam, you need nothing more than rose petals, sugar, water, lemon juice and a spoonful of regular powdered fruit pectin. Of course it sounds quite simple, but finding the elusive and lovely pesticide free roses will be the greatest challenge. If you have a friend with a rose garden, you're in luck! Massage the petals with sugar and lemon juice to release their colour and perfume. This simple process will result in a brightly coloured and delicately scented, nectar-like jam.

After making three batches, all of which were slightly different in the name of experimentation, I came to my final recipe. My jam is jelled but not viscous, it is sweet but not sugary, and the taste is the best of what eating flowers can be; it is a subtle taste, tart and sweet and faintly floral, sort of like an elderflower. It really is heavenly. There's no heavy perfuminess to this jam, and if you make it, I think you'll be as pleasantly surprised by the result as I was. It's truly an incredible thing to produce. It can be stored in the fridge for a few months, but it also cans nicely.


Rose Petal Jam Recipe

2- 4 cups rose petals (fragrant red and pink roses work best)
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice

4 cups sugar
6 cups water

1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp powdered pectin

Gently wash the rose petals, watching for bugs, worms, sticks and leaves. I found the best method was to fill a basin with water and pour in the petals. Generally, the petals will float and most of the unwanted bits will sink. Remove petals from the water and gently squeeze or pat to dry.

Place petals in a bowl with 2 cups of sugar and the lemon juice. With one hand, begin to massage the sugar and juice into the petals. You will see the petals start to wilt. They will release their perfume and colour and after a few minutes you should have a pink syrupy paste.

Next, combine water and 4 cups sugar in a pot. Place over med/high heat and stir until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil and then add the rose petal mixture. Stir roses into the boiling water.

Combine 1/4 cup sugar and a spoonful of powdered fruit pectin in a small bowl. Whisk together or stir with a fork. Add the sugar and pectin to the roses by sprinkling it in slowly, while stirring constantly. (You want to avoid having clumps form).

Let the roses simmer over medium/high heat for about 30 minutes. The petals should start to sink and the mixture will thicken just slightly. If using a candy thermometer, cook jam until it reaches 110 C. At that point, remove from heat and pour into sterilized jars. To can, place in a boiling water bath canner and process for 10 minutes. Not sure what that means? See my canning step-by-step how to post. If you're not canning, let the jam cool, then cover and keep refrigerated.


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