Wild Rose Petal Jelly
I talk a lot about scent memories. Scent is closely tied to memory and emotion. Scents are perceived in the olfactory bulb and transmitted directly to certain areas of the brain – the hippocampus and the amygdala. These areas are the epicenter of feelings, of emotions. It is where are memories are formed. Sharing this intimate space, scents become intricately entwined with our memories. Wild rose, in fact, any rose, delivers a powerful set of scent memories for me. Most specifically, of my maternal grandparents’ rose garden where I enjoyed stuffing my nose into the heady blossoms as a child, and, even more so, of the linens shop that my late paternal grandmother visited every vacation. Somehow those linens were permeated with the scent of rose, and as such all of my grandmother’s purchases carried that intense fragrance. So each time I find myself standing in the vicinity of the wild rose (Rosa nutkana) hedge in my lower pasture, I am transported to these places of my childhood. And in an attempt to capture that scent memory and transform it into something else entirely wonderful, I endeavored to create a wild rose petal jelly.
Wild rose petal jelly is just that – entirely wonderful. Heavenly. The perfume of the wild rose petal jelly is at once refined, even sophisticated, whilst also suggesting a sense of both the ephemeral and feral. Quintessentially, characteristically rose. The texture of this jelly is positively sumptuous. I am not entirely sure what liquefied silk would feel like, but I am pretty sure that this is it. A thoughtful and subtle addition of cardamom seems to enhance the rose fragrance and flavor, while not dominating the jelly itself.
I am fortunate that a large mixed hedge of wild Nootka rose and blackberry line the creek side of our lower pasture. The picking is easy, far from any road, pollution and pesticide. I harvest wild rose petals in the morning hours, after the dew has dried, leaving all other parts of the flower intact. I then dry the petals in my dehydrator set to the lowest setting to preserve the delicate aromatics. For the purposes of this recipe, I use dried petals, although fresh could be used. Your “garden variety” roses can also be used – so long as they are pesticide and herbicide free. Really, nobody is going to ask you what type of rose you used – I mean, you just presented them with rose petal jelly… Do not despair as you set about simmering your rose petals and the liquid becomes brownish – the addition of lemon juice will revive the color to extraordinary vibrancy. Because I rather like a relatively low sugar jam or jelly, I use Pomona’s Pectin to achieve the desired “set”.
This wild rose petal jelly is best served with a piping hot Scottish scone straight out of the oven (you’re in luck, recipe below). It would also serve as a lovely filling in a thumbprint cookie, cake layer or pastry. Or topping some delicious homemade vanilla ice cream. Knock yourself out… Wild rose petal jelly a culinary experience worth the effort.
Wild Rose Petal Jelly Recipe
- 3 cups lightly packed dried rose petal (approximately 5 cups fresh)
- 4 cups water
- 1 teaspoon cardamom seeds (or 1 tablespoon cardamom pods, lightly crushed)
- ½ cup lemon juice
- 1 cup organic cane sugar
- 4 teaspoons Pomona’s Pectin
- 4 teaspoons calcium water (see Pomona’s directions)
- Prepare calcium water; set aside.
- In a small bowl, mix sugar and pectin; set aside.
- In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, add rose petals, cardamom, and water. Over medium heat, bring to a very low simmer. Gently simmer until most of the pigment of the petals is leached into the water, approximately 15-20 minutes. Do worry if the liquid appears somewhat brown at this point; it will revive with lemon juice addition.
- Remove from heat and pour the rose petal cardamom “tea” through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl, squeezing as much liquid out of the petals as possible. Measure the rose infusion and add more water, if necessary, to maintain 4 cups of liquid. Transfer the rose infusion back to the saucepan and add the lemon juice and calcium water.
- Return the saucepan to the stove top and bring back to a gentle simmer. Slowly add the sugar/pectin mixture, stirring well to dissolve. Return to a simmer. Remove from heat when perfectly dissolved (you may find that you need to pass this through a sieve again to break up any stubborn sugar/pectin lumps.
- TO PROCESS FOR CANNING: Ladle the hot jelly into sterilized jars. Wipe the rims of any drips and place prepared lids and rings on the jars, finger tight. Process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes (for half-pint jars) at a full boil. Remove jars from canner and allow to sit undisturbed for 24 hours.
When one crafts a few jars of wild rose petal jelly, one must really consider the delivery device for the concoction. How better to serve your wildcrafted jelly than with a delicious, even authentic, Scottish scone?
I have mentioned before that the paternal side of my family is entirely of Scottish heritage, only immigrating to the states in the 20th century. My grandparents and great grandparents referred to Scotland as “the old country” and their traditions and tastes bent totally tartan… While rare as rare can be mutton with mint jelly is not my favorite meal, shortbreads and scones are more my style. Sadly, the recipes of my great grandmothers’ were never passed down (at least to me) before strokes, dementia or age robbed my family members of their abilities. I listen to my father and his siblings recall Momo’s shortbreads and scones, or Nana’s pickled figs, and charge myself with recreating these flavors of their childhood.
I must say that true Scottish scone has kicked me in my plaid “arse” more than once or twice. Some were rock hard and dry, others more accurately resembled a pancake. But I finally lit on a recipe that delivered the perfect texture, loft and flavor. And I cannot wait to let my father at the scones. I think I “got it”. Just the perfect balance of loft and spring…
As for the combination of the wild rose petal jelly and Scottish scones? My husband says that they absolutely assuage any lingering doubts about marrying me… 😉 Charming… Such a nice chap, he is…
Well, now, with my wild rose petal jelly and Scottish scones perfuming our home with new scent memories, I think I will watch some Outlander and get in touch with my highland roots…
Scottish Scones Recipe
- 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 tablespoon organic cane sugar, plus more for dusting
- pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons room temperature butter
- ½ cup and 2 tablespoons whole milk, plus more from brushing.
- Preheat oven to 425F.
- In a medium size bowl, combine dry ingredients.
- With a fork, cut butter into flour mixture. Add ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk and combine.
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead very briefly approximately one minute. Be careful not to overwork or over flour the dough as it creates a dense, heavy scones. Pat out dough to about ¾ inch thickness and use a cutter, glass or jar lid to create 2″ rounds, recombining and patting out dough scraps as necessary.
- Transfer dough rounds to a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush with a small amount of milk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake on the middle rack for 12-15 minutes or until lightly golden.
- Cool slightly and serve.