Roses in My Creative Life

Rose oil meringue, rose water cream, crystalised rose petals, and non-alcoholic wine with rose water and fresh mint leaves.
Rose oil meringue, rose water cream, crystalised rose petals, and non-alcoholic wine with rose water and fresh mint leaves.

Did you know that you can eat rose petals? I went a shamefully long time through life without knowing this or experimenting with the divine loveliness of this flower.

I studied aromatherapy some years ago, as part of a massage qualification. I had to complete a semester-long subject in aromatherapy. Like many people, I didn’t realise what aromatherapy was really all about. It’s name suggests it’s about smelling things. And that’s certainly a big part of it. But it should really be called something like ‘essential oil therapy’. It’s also sometimes now called ‘aromatic medicine’ or as part of ‘botanical medicine’ sitting alongside herbology and naturopathy.

So I walked into that first lecture thinking, gosh, what a waste of time! And I walked out a complete convert, and changed my qualification the very next day to specialise in this amazing healing science.

But I digress. Back to the roses.

Rose essential oil is a wonderous oil, exceptionally complex, with over three hundred chemical compounds, many of which are still unidentified. (Therefore, a synthetic version is not a complete version of rose oil.) It is fantastically healing for all sorts of emotional situations and physical ones too.

I’ve often used rose water (a byproduct of the distillation of rose petals) into cakes, icing and beverages. And this weekend just gone, I wanted to take that a step further and use the actual rose essential oil in baking, as well as rose water, and crystalise some rose petals too.

Although I’d made tea out of fresh rose petals from my garden (while I was writing The Tea Chest), until I made this rose meringue I’d never actually eaten rose petals. They are wonderful. The flavour is so much more intense than I imagined it would be because rose tea (from fresh petals) is actually very subtle. The full-bodied flowers are sensational! I highly recommend them.

(Note: You must not eat roses that have been sprayed with chemicals and that most likely rules out any you buy in the shop. Try farmers’ markets where you can get accurate information about the source of the roses, or do as I did and just take them from your garden!)

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