I know I’m getting closer to my destination. I can already smell it. The scent is unforgettable. I take a deep breath and smile. Yes, this is it. Now I can also see what I’m looking for. I take out my plastic bag that I brought for this very occasion and get to work. From time to time, I look around to see whether no one is watching. I’m pretty sure I’m not doing anything illegal but get a little nervous nonetheless.
My target? Beautiful, aromatic rosebushes. And not just any roses. I mean I have some in my garden and while they’re beautiful, I’m looking for something else and besides, my husband wouldn’t be happy if I took some of the flowers in our garden. I want the dog rose, rosa canina, also called wild rose. It’s my favourite, with its beautiful scent and delicate flowers. The flowers are in bloom and I get a little bit high on rose scent. One after another, I take the delicate petals and put them into a plastic bag. Why? I want to make rose petal jam. It’s one of those things I thought I could live without until I moved to the Netherlands and realized that rose petal jam is an item of enormous importance.
So I gathered the rose petals into my bag, and went home. However, because these little beautiful things are delicate and light as a feather, I had gathered a mere 150g of the stuff. So I went out again and came back with double the amount. As evidenced here. Again, it looks like a lot but it’s only about 300 gram.
Step number 1: completed. Now, step number 2: the recipe. I called in jam but in fact, what I want is a konfitura, similar to my sour cherry preserve.
I start reading and find out that there are in fact many ways of achieving this goal.
Number 1: the cold method. I try this recipe (sorry it’s only in Polish) which tells me I need to weight the rose petals and use double the amount of sugar. The cold method means that you spend hours and hours, combining rose petals and sugar until you get a smooth mixture in which neither can be seen or tasted. And here’s a picture of rose petals and sugar, because they just look so pretty together.
In the end I do it with a hand mixer but I’m still not satisfied. Also, I try to pasteurize the thing and heat it up and boil it for a while. The results? I’m not completely convinced but after a night in the fridge I find it’s great. Maybe not for eating on bread but for cake/ doughnut fillings, to put in a wonderful cup of strong, aromatic tea- yes, in case you didn’t know, tea and preserve is a wonderful combination.
Number 2: I try a recipe – think similar to this one from Friedel over at Dutch View in which I cook everything: the rose petals, the sugar and some water together. The result: fabulous but I don’t know how much water I added and how much sugar (and to make things more complicated, I used both crystal sugar and gelling sugar. IThis is more like I imagined it would be. But how did I get there? I should have listened to Friedel, but no. I’m going to my own jam, damn it!
Attempt number 3: I knew it. I should have done it from the beginning. If it’s called konfitura, let it be a konfitura, meaning being cooked in syrup, not all at once like in case of jam. So I do it: I make the syrup, add rose petals and watch magic happen. The next day I make pancakes. My husband tries the konfitura on his pancakes and states: “very rose-y”. It’s all the encouragement I need and I happily send a jar of the konfitura to my in-laws, together with a jar of homemade rhubarb jam and a bottle of equally homemade vanilla extract. I’m proud of myself. Unfortunately, the time of the dog rose is over but it doesn’t prevent me from dreaming about getting my hands on mountains of red roses and imagining all the glorious things I’d do with them.
- 250g rose petals
- 500g sugar
- 100ml water
- Put rose petals in a bowl and rinse with water.
- Then, pour the water out and crush the petals with your hands.
- In a pan, bring water and sugar to a boil.
- Let it boil and evaporate until a thick syrup forms.
- if you want, add the lemon juice (I didn't use any lemon juice) and vanilla
- Add the rose petals.
- Watch them wilt and release their aroma.
- Cook until the rose petals are fully wilted, the jam has a nice red-purple color and the syrup is thick- you don't want too much liquid in your jam.
- You can add lemon juice and or vanilla extract.
Voila, the end result. Still not what I wanted but fabulous nonetheless.