While many people are not familiar with rose petals as a cooking ingredient, they’re fairly common in Middle Eastern cuisine as well as some Indian dishes. Turkish delight is a familiar example of a rose-flavored food. The North African spice mix ras el hanout incorporates dried rose petals as well as other savory spices like coriander, cumin, turmeric, pepper, clove and cinnamon.
Spice mixes with rose can make an excellent dry rub for poultry, lamb and other meats. In western culture, roses are more often used in desserts and other sweet dishes. Rose pairs well with honey, dried apricots and saffron as well as summer fruits like strawberries and raspberries.
Here are a few examples of cooking with rose petals to inspire your culinary creativity:
Rose tea: Dried rose petals or rose hips can be steeped in hot water to make delicate rose tea.
Rose-infused beverages: Rose petals can add a subtle floral taste to lemonades, juices and iced tea. Simply muddle fresh rose petals to release the flavor, and stir them into a cool, fruity beverage. Rose petals can also be frozen into ice cubes for a beautiful and delicious punch.
Rose simple syrup: Mix equal parts sugar and water in a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Stir continuously until the sugar is completely dissolved. Reduce to a simmer and stir in dried or fresh rose petals. Remove the mixture from the heat and let it steep for about 10 minutes. Strain out the rose petals with a fine sifter, and allow the syrup to cool. Rose simple syrup is delicious in cocktails, tea and lemonade.
Rose sugar: Chop up one-half cup of rose petals and mix them with two cups of sugar. Pour the sugar into a covered tin and store it in a cool, dark location for about one week. Sift the sugar through a sieve into a clean glass jar to remove the petals. A few of them can remain. This floral sugar is perfect for tea or to sprinkle on top of sugar cookies.
Candied flower petals: Candied flower petals are perfect as an edible garnish for cakes and desserts or simply a sugary after-dinner treat. This recipe can be made with roses or any other edible flower. Paint each petal or flower with gently beaten egg whites, then dip it in granulated sugar. Lay the petals on wax paper to dry until hardened.
Salads with rose: Fresh rose petals make a great addition to fruit salads and mixed greens salads. Create a salad filled with other herbs and flowers from your garden for a refreshing summer lunch.
Dried rose in granola: Add dried rose petals to a sweet granola mix with dried cranberries, apricots and honey. This floral granola pairs well with vanilla yogurt or can be eaten plain as a healthy snack.
Rose butter: Chop up fragrant rose petals and mix them into softened butter. Pack the butter into a ramekin and chill until it’s ready to serve. You can also add finely ground sugar or almond extract for extra sweetness. This delicate butter is perfect served on biscuits, crackers or fruity muffins.
Rose water: Rose-infused water offers a great way to incorporate the flavor of rose into an entire dish, such as a custard, sponge cake or other baked goods. Rose water can also be added to beverages or used as a perfume or toner. Spritzing rose water on your face and neck will refresh and tighten your skin.
When cooking with roses, be sure to incorporate them in moderation. You’ll enjoy the delicate, fruity flavor of roses more when it’s not overpowering but allowed to complement the food or beverage.