Using Roses in the Kitchen

By M.K. Albus

Using Roses in the Kitchen

Many people will have rose bushes in their gardens but don't think to harvest rose buds for use in cooking. Roses have been used in cooking for thousands of years and they continue to be a staple in Bulgaria, Turkey, Morocco, Tunisia, Iran, and northern India.

They are used essentially two ways; as a spice made from ground dried rose buds, and in the form of rose water, which is distilled from the rose buds. In northern India ground dried rose buds are a common spice used in marinades and kormas. Rose water is used there to flavor desserts, kheer (a rich rice pudding), and lassi (a cooling yoghurt drint).

In Turkey rose sherbet is very popular and rose water is also used to flavor cakes and creams. In Iran dried rose petals are mixed with cinnamon, cumin, and cardamom to create a flavoring for rice. It is mixed with lime to flavor stews. It is also used as a garnish and to flavor soups and salads.

Tunisian cooks perhaps use rose the most. They combine it with cinnamon and black pepper to flavor numerous meat dishes and stews and couscous. Crushed dried rose buds are a main ingredient in Tunisian Jewish meatballs.

Dried rose buds combine very complementary with saffron, cardamom, cumin, cloves, coriander, and pepper.

So how does one harvest rose buds? Simply find buds on your rose bushes that are on the verge of opening up. Snip them off and then set them to dry. The best time to cut them is early in the morning as the scent is strongest then. The best time of year is early summer. Once the buds have completely dried, they can then be crushed into a powder and stored. The dried buds can be stored as is in an air-tight glass jar for up to a year. The best roses to use are the ones that are the most fragrant. Rose water and rose oil can be found at ethnic or healthfood stores.

One obviously does not want to harvest all the rose buds in their garden. We grow the roses for their full blooms in the garden. But it might be a delightful new experience to snip a few buds from your most fragrant rose bushes, dry them, and use them in your cooking to add a new twist to your meals.

M.K. Albus is a freelance writer who has written numerous articles for internet magazines and websites.

See other articles by M. K. Albus: The Wonders of Kale - Dogs and Nuts Are Not a Good Mix - A Taste of Paprika - Food and Vibration - Dad's Apple Pandowdy

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