This post was written by our Spring 2014 Intern, Victoria McClellan.
If you have ever strolled around the gift shop here at the Shaker Heritage Society you may have come across a bottle of rosewater and wondered what someone would ever use that for. The answer to your question is: cooking and baking. The Shakers used rosewater that same way that we use vanilla extract. Today rosewater is used in numerous ways. It can be added to breads, cookies, and cakes. Rosewater can also be used in sweet potato dishes, salad dressings, and various beverages. I have gathered some of the most interesting recipes that I have found in my rosewater research and will share them with you below to give you some ideas on what rosewater is used for today.
So the next time you stop by the Shaker Heritage Society be sure to grab yourself some pre-made rosewater to store in your pantry. You never know when you may have a craving for one of these delicious recipes. If you’re really feeling ambitious and have a free 45 minutes feel free to make your own rosewater by following the recipe below from Herbs for Natural Beauty by Rosemary Gladstar.
Ingredients & Materials:
2-3 quarts of fresh rose petals
Clean water (distilled if possible)
Large pot with convex lid
Quart-size heat-safe stainless steel or glass bowl
1. Place the brick in the center of the pot and the bowl on top of the brick.
2. Arrange the rose petals around the brick, adding enough flowers to reach the top of it. Pour in just enough water to cover the roses. Place the lid upside down on the pot.
3. Bring the water to a rolling boil; then lower the heat to a slow, steady simmer.
4. As soon as the water begins to boil, empty two or three trays of ice cubes into the inverted lid. Ta-da—your home still! If it all goes right, condensed rose water will flow to the center of the lid and drip into the bowl.
*It is important not to simmer the pot too long or your rose water will become diluted. When you’ve collected about a pint, it’s time to stop—and taste the rose water.
*The best rose water comes from the freshest, most fragrant petals. Petals from commercially grown roses will result in less flavorful water; grow your own or try to locate a garden source with pesticide-free old garden roses. Damasks, centifolias, and gallicas are the varieties most commonly used in the industry to brew the sweetest rose water draught.