July 14, 2009

Roses, an herb to love in so many ways

“What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Romeo and Juliet (II, ii 1-2)

I love roses. I grow them at every home I ever have. I always thought they were so hard to grow and maybe its where I live now, but they are like weeds. Pruning them properly helps alot and you can prune often and hard. But its not hard to do at all. What you want is an open stem area. That means any stems that might cross another, you cut out. You want them to branch out towards the outside, not towards the inside. Look along the stem where there are leaves and you will often see a nub. That's where the new growth will come in. Cut just above that but cut where the nub is on the outside not the inside of the stem. Otherwise the new growth will grow into the middle. You can cut pretty far down the stems too. But once you cut into old wood, you may not get any growth.

When I first started growing roses I put a row of all kinds that I researched right across the front of my porch. I had floribunda, hybrids and english roses, I picked out my favorites. The first year after they stopped blooming for winter, I hacked those back to about 6in. My daughter saw it and said mom you killed them. lol. The following spring there was so much growth I was able to prune them every two weeks and get armloads of flowers to bring inside. So pruning and shaping is important. And I actually found it to be fun, not a chore once I understood how much more I could grow by doing it.

Rose has always been a favorite fragrance of women. I often have potpourri around my house from my dried rose petals that I add essential oils too. And I love it in my soap and I even wear a rose perfume. (Evelyn by Crabtree and Evelyn). But rose is good for your skin too, especially older, mature skin. Altho Ive used it for yrs, its nice to know its better for me now that I'm older. I often by a rose hydrosol to add to the lotion I make for my skin. Rose absolute and essential oils tho are very expensive. It takes tons of roses to make just a lil bit of oil. If you do buy the oils be sure to buy ones that are not cut with cheaper oils. And if it is, make sure they do it with organic oils able to be used for skin. Many fragrance oils for the home and such are petroleum based and shouldn't be used on skin. Food grade or cosmetic grade is what you should be using on you.

Rosehips are good too. They are loaded with Vit. C. and because that used to be hard to come by, especially in the winter, many folks throughout time used it to make tea. One cup of fresh rose hips has the equivalent amount of vitamin C in 60 oranges.

Rose syrup
Use unsprayed roses. Pick early in the morning when they are most fragrant and only use fragrant ones. No perfume means no taste. Only use white sugar because anything else will change the color. Makes 12 cups

6 packed cups of rose petals
12 cups water
6 cups white sugar

1. In large bowls add rose petals, have a large heavy platter that fits over the bowl snugly.
2. Bring to a boil 12 cups of water and pour over rose petals and quickly cover with platter.
3. Set aside till water cools.
4. Strain water and discard petals.
5. Mix water and sugar in a large pot and bring to boil till sugar is dissolved. But do not boil, only heat water enough to dissolve sugar.
6. If the color is not to your liking, you can adjust it. Add food coloring. Keep refrigerated. Will last about 3 months in fridge. Or you may also can it for longer storage. Use it drizzled over fresh fruit, in custard, on pancakes with fresh berries, in iced tea.

Note: To make the syrup pink you can add 1/8 cup or 2 tbsp. lemon juice to each cup of rose infusion. It is fun to watch it turn pink before your eyes. The lemon juice may also act as a preservative and lengthen the shelf time.

Rose Petal Tea
1-1/2 cups rose petals
3 cups water
honey to taste
Choose fresh rose petals. Strip the flower gently under running water then place the petals in a saucepan. Cover with the water and boil for 5 minutes, or until the petals become discolored. Strain into teacups and add honey to taste. Serves 4.

Rose Petal Infused Champagne Vinegar
4 cup champagne vinegar
3 cup dried rose petals
1/2 cup dried rose petals
Preheat oven to 225 degrees F.
Combine vinegar and 3 cups petals in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cover pan and put in oven for 2 hours. Remove from oven and cool.
Strain vinegar into a bottle.Add the 1/2 cup rose petals. Cap bottle and refrigerate. Use within 5 days. Makes 4 cups.

Rose Dusting Powder

Petals from 4 roses (medium size)
1 cup cornstarch
3 TBS baking soda
3 dried roses

1. In a small cardboard box, layer the petals and cornstarch. Fit the cover on but don’t seal tight, you want the contents to still have a bit of air. Leave for 24 to 36 hours.
2. Sift the petals from cornstarch then add the baking soda (you may have to sift a few times to remove all the petals). Mix well then split the powder mixture into two batches.
3. Next take the dried roses, remove the stem and leaves and add the rose heads (petals) to one half of the powder mixture. Pour into a blender and mix until the dried roses are finely ground.
4. Add the fine ground powder mixture to the other half of the powder mixture, use a wooden spoon to blend the powder by hand.
5. Pour the scented powder into a decorative box or shaker jar, allow to sit for a day before using.
If you prefer a stronger scented dusting powder, you can add another batch of fresh rose petals and allow the powder to sit another 24 hours (first sift out the first batch of rose petals).
* You can use lavender or other scented flowers instead of rose petals if you prefer.

I did this twice and sifted out the roses. I used my favorite Double Delight roses plus another one I dont recall the name of that was very fragrant. It makes a very nice light rose dusting powder, I love it.

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