Prize Winning Preserves: Honey Rose Petal Jam ~ Best of Show!

by Cynthe on May 27, 2010

Honey Rose Petal Jam makes a lovely topping for fresh yogurt

buy organic rose preserves~ This lovely, subtle, sophisticated jam needs a day or two to mellow, blending the flavors (a month is even better). The honey tones are dominant, the rose more of a aromatic nuance and secondary flavor. It’s best for savoring.

Honey Rose Petal Jelly
8oz~$16ea, 4oz~$10ea, 2oz Gift Basket Sampler Jars~$7ea
*Out-of-Stock* We’ll be making a JELLY version of this recipe next Spring (2014). Keep an eye out for it!

Here in the United States, county & state fairs are fun, bustling summer time events celebrating our agricultural heritage and excellence. Local folk can compete for cash prizes and awards in various arenas, like livestock, handcrafts, gardening, art, wine-making, and charmingly quaint competitions such as the best homemade jams & preserves.

I’ve decided to participate this summer. One category of interest is ORGANIC HOME-GROWN PRESERVED FOODS. Had been planning to enter the Meyer Lemon Marmalade I made two months ago, but upon reading the competition guidelines realized it doesn’t fit the stated “Marmalade requirements:”

1. Rinds cut into thin slices (mine is ‘chunky’)
2. Clear syrup (mine is cloudy from lemon pulp)
3. Canned in traditional canning jars (I reused assorted non-standard jars)
4. Submitting TWO identical jars of marmalade. One for opening and taste testing. The other for display, if the entry is selected. (I had given away 6 jars of Lemon Marmalade…and we’ve already eaten one of the remaining two jars.)

My two little potted Meyer Lemon trees won’t have lemons again ’til later in the year. But what I do still have is a garden full of roses!

Mid-April ’til the end of May is peak springtime rose bloom season in northern California. My heritage rose garden is winding down from its magnificent showing, but one hybrid musk shrub rose ‘Eva’ is still a’bloom with hundreds of red roses.

'Eva' hybrid musk roses gathered from the garden for rose petal jam

‘Eva’ hybrid musk roses gathered from the garden for rose petal jam

I’ve wanted to cook rosy confections for several years. Have found and collected an interesting stash of rose-based recipes. Almost made a rose hip & wine jam this past winter… The washed rose hips mildewed in the refrigerator before I got around to it. The wine is still sitting on my kitchen counter.

One of my cookbooks “A Passion For Preserves” by Frederica Langeland (Friedman / Fairfax Publishers, New York 1997) had an easy sounding recipe for Rose Petal Jam.

cynthe brush holding prize winning best of show honey rose petal jam and ribbons

The official 2010 Marin County Fair ‘Best of Show’ winner portrait with my ribbon and Honey Rose Petal Jam

INGREDIENTS
*3 cups Rose Petals, tightly packed (about 40 roses)
Cynthe’s TIP: Use fragrant (red or pink) organically cultivated blooms
*3 cups filtered Water
*3 cups Organic Cane Sugar
*4 Tablespoons Organic local Honey
Cynthe’s TIP: I used Star Thistle. A more delicately flavored honey like Orange Blossom or Tupelo might be better.
*2 drops pure Rose Essential Oil (my improvisation since the honey seemed a bit strong)
*3-4 Tablespoons organic Meyer Lemon Juice (for pectin to jell the jam)
Cynthe’s TIP: I used all the juice from 1 large Meyer Lemon along with the rind and seeds tied in a cheesecloth packet.

Went out to the garden around 8am this past Saturday morning to gather roses. Ran the sprinkler system the evening before, so the roses would be plump and vibrant in the morning when I harvested them. Gathered a couple of large mixing bowls full for this project.

INSTRUCTIONS
1) Cut the rose petal into strips with clean scissors, discarding the white base, which is tough (and bitter).
Cynthe’s TIP: This an easy, but time consuming task. I stacked 5-8 petals together and then trimmed off the white base before cutting them into strips. Listening to  nice music, doing a mantra, or having a friend to help and chat with keeps one patient.

Rose petals, trimmed & cut before making rose petal jam

Rose petals, trimmed & cut before making rose petal jam

2) Put the petals in a pan with water; cook for 10 minutes, then lift out and drain. reserving the liquid.

Rose petal ribbons in the jam pot

Rose petal ‘ribbons’ in the jam pot

Rose petals bleached from a quick cooking in boiling water

Rose petals lose their color in boiling water

Rosey hued water after cooking rose petals for ten minutes

The water turned a lovely hue

3) Add the sugar and honey and cook  over medium high heat until syrupy (about 20-30 minutes). Skim off & discard any foam that forms with a spoon, which will cloud the finished jam if you leave it in.

4) Return the rose petals to the syrup and continue to cook gently for about 10-20 minutes more.
COMMENT: At this stage, the rose petals lose their unattractive bleached fleshy appearance, becoming beautifully transparent infused with color.

5) Add the rose essential oil and lemon juice. Simmer until set, another 10-15 minutes. (The sugar syrup will set once its reached a temperature of 220-222F. Test for set by tipping a spoonful of syrup to see if it coats the surface and runs off in a ‘sheet’ or in a couple of blobs. If still a single stream, it’s not ready…continue to cook and test again in 5 minutes.)

COMMENT: Depending on the color of roses used, you may wish to add food coloring to make it pink. Red roses yield a deep pinkish-red color.

CYNTHE’s TIP: Sterilize your clean, washed & well dried jars, by placing them on a cookie sheet in a 200F oven for 10-15 minutes. In the meantime, place the lids and sealing rims in a ceramic or metal mixing bowl. Boil a teakettle of water and pour the boiling water over the lids/rims until covered. Let them sit in the hot water until you’re ready to use them.

6) Ladle into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe the rims clean with a dampened paper towel or clean cloth, put the lids in place and tighten down. Invert the jars for a few minutes, turn upright and let cool completely.

Honey rose petal jam in jars with fresh roses

Newly designed labels on jars of Honey Rose Petal Jam with ‘Eva’ roses, the main ingredient.

Check the vacuum seals, date, label and store in a cool, dry, dark cabinet. (If I hadn’t made the jam as a competition entry requiring 8oz jars, I would have used small 4oz jars to give away as special gourmet food gifts.)

COMMENT: This lovely, subtle, sophisticated jam needs a day or two (a month is even better) to mellow, blending the flavors. The honey tones are dominant, the rose more of a aromatic nuance and secondary flavor. It’s best for savoring ~ not a ‘gobble it down’ jam.

It’s delicious spooned into plain yogurt or drizzled over fresh creamy goat cheese. YUM! Probably wonderful over vanilla ice cream, I’d imagine. Could also be used as a filling between cake layers, as a glaze for cheese cake, pound cake, a fruit tart or to flavor a fruit salad dressing. Rose Petal Jam is a sophisticated delicacy…and I’ll definitely be making more!

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Victoria May 29, 2010 at 6:17 am

Well, this looks yummy, being a fan of rose water and all things roses. But I don’t really eat much jam, except when I get some as a gift.

I really love the photos of the rose petals in their pans. What is it about nice cooking plans? I think they are so gorgeous.

Cynthe May 30, 2010 at 7:45 pm

Totally agree ~ nice cookware is gorgeous! Especially when pans are new, super clean, and unstained. Appreciate the architectural element cookware & utensils provide as a counterpoint to the organic food stuff in photographs. Plus shiny stainless steel reflects light and color beautifully. Took one photo showing the jam pan with its handle behind the prepped rose petals, loved the over all composition….BUT had to reject it as I hadn’t composed the up front details with the Pyrex measuring cup and the tilted bowl of white petal bases well enough. (sigh)

I’ll save a jar of my next batch of rose jam for you. Have ideas for variations and subtle improvements on the recipe. Am hoping to do more in autumn, but may have to wait until next spring. If my entry gets rejected from the Marin County fair, I’ll have an unopened jar of this batch to send….so you don’t have to wait for months.

Cynthe June 4, 2010 at 10:16 am

Reader’s comment accidentally deleted! A recent note from an lady referred to ‘Gulkand,’ rose jam as it’s called in India…please resubmit your comment if you read this. It got caught in my spam filter and deleted before I had time to realize it wasn’t spam. Thanks for coming by.

shankari June 4, 2010 at 10:17 pm

Gulkand is smeared on betel leaves and served. It is used in ayurvedic medicines as well..

Cynthe June 4, 2010 at 10:27 pm

Gulkand = thumbs up / Betel leaves, ummmmm….NO! Though as kids in Pakistan, my sis and I used to pretend to make betel paan with shrubbery leaves and red mud mixed with fine pebbles. Fortunately, we didn’t put it in our mouths! ;~}

Victoria Brush July 10, 2010 at 6:44 am

Check out your comment from May 30th “If my entry gets rejected from the Marin County fair, I’ll have an unopened jar of this batch to send….” I guess it wasn’t rejected, huh? Guess I have to wait now.

Cynthe July 10, 2010 at 11:04 pm

Am going to buy a dozen 2.5oz sample jars to divy up the “precious” 24oz of remaining Rose Petal Preserve. Some folks have asked to purchase them. You & Dad will get little gift jars in the mail, so don’t despair!

Kathy Mullins August 16, 2010 at 11:59 am

This jam was a great hit with the whole family, from 4 to 59! We ate it with a mild goat cheese or straight on toast. Congratulations!

Cynthe August 18, 2010 at 10:32 pm

Kathy ~ I’m SO pleased you liked it. The fact that your entire family, including the kiddos, enjoyed the rosy yumminess is great!

Victoria Brush August 29, 2010 at 8:32 am

The jams/preserves were waiting on my desk when I returned to the office Tuesday morning. Yum! I especially like the Plum Gumbo, like the citrus flavor. The rose honey one is lovely, too, but so delicate, you really have to clean your palate first to appreciate the full flavor.

Thank you!!!!!! Sometimes a mouthful is worth a thousand pictures.

Roxana Glenn June 13, 2011 at 10:50 am

I’ve been making rose petal jelly for a couple years, can’t wait to try this version with honey in it.
If you use a version that uses commercial pectin (or apple skin to keep it more natural) and double the pectin, you can pour them into molds then dip the resulting candy in dark chocolate. I use damask roses so the rose flavor is strong and not overwhelmed by the chocolate, and my daughter gets very posessive of the rose petal chocolate candy;)

Cynthe June 14, 2011 at 11:35 pm

Ooooh…Roxana! Your chocolate rose candies sound DIVINE. I don’t use commercial pectin, only citrus or apples in my hand-crafted preserves. Probably could manage an attempt at your candies using apple pectin as I’ve already twice accidentally made ‘rubber cement’ rather than jelly by cooking my drained cooked apples just a tad too long.

Do you have a blog with photos of your delectable treats? Do the molds need to be oiled in some way or do you use special food grade silicone molds that don’t stick? I’m not a candy maker, so have all these questions! Where do you get your damask roses? Do you grow them or have a generous neighbor that does? Wish I had damask roses planted in my yard….(sigh).

And what a savvy daughter you have! How old is she? Kids instinctively know what’s good for them (roses+chocolate) just as long as she doesn’t eat too many at once! Sure would love to see a photo of her with “her” chocolate rose candies.

Sue July 25, 2011 at 5:33 am

I’ve never cooked with essential rose oil before, so forgive me if this seems like a strange question. Is there a difference in the oils as far as for topical and edible usage? For instance, if you don’t have roses in your yard and you opt to purchase rose petals for dessert usage, they recommend you use food grade versus commercial since its guaranteed to be pesticide free. So are essential oils made in the same way – food grade versus non-edible use? Thanks!

Cynthe July 25, 2011 at 10:18 am

Yes, Sue ~ Rose Otto is the description to look for when buying rose oil for culinary purposes. It’s ‘pure 100% steam-distilled’ and highly concentrated: 1 drop = petals from 30 roses…and expensive. A little goes a long way. Even a toothpick swirl of rose oil in a drink or dessert will flavor it nicely.

All roses cultivated for Rose Otto production are grown pesticide-free and organically. A favorite supplier of Rose Otto that can be purchased in teeny quantities and from various rose growing areas of the world is Eden Botanicals.

Products labeled as Rose Absolute are for perfumery purposes only. The extraction is done with chemical solvents, a trace of which remains in the product.

Another more affordable option for culinary purposes is to purchase ‘pure’ authentic Rosewater, the by-product of rose oil steam distillation. We have a local nursery who makes an awesome rosewater, 4oz = $16 or so. +S/H

Thanks for stopping by FWB and for your sensible question. Let us know what you create!

Sue July 25, 2011 at 11:42 am

I love unusual jam and jellies, so when I found your fantastic sounding recipe, I knew I had to try and make this one. I’ve seen other rose jams, but this recipe is unique, and it’s no wonder you won best of show with it. Congratulations, and thanks so much for sharing it with us! :)

Cynthe July 25, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Unusual…and deliciously full flavored…that’s what inspires me to make preserves: jams, jellies, marmalades, and preserves. Most ~ not all ~ commercial preserves don’t have enough “fruit” in them or are that unimaginative same ol’ same ol’ stuff w/o handcrafted pizazz.

Thanks for your enthusiasm. It’s wonderful to share with an appreciative audience.

Melissa September 6, 2011 at 11:42 pm

I was at the fair this past weekend and couldn’t help but notice all the different jellies, fruits, and vegetables that won blue ribbon awards for first place. When I was a kid, both my parents taught my brother and I the skills of gardening and preserving, as they converted our entire backyard into vegetable heaven…for them. However, now that I am an adult, I see the value of such tedious work.

This year I taught some at-risk youth in my community some of the same things my parents passed down to me. While it was a first for gardening on my own, my small patch produced amazing treasure! One area of the garden still houses an herb garden that produces regular amounts of basil, lemon thyme, and more. After eating many dishes made of pesto, my visit to the fair, along with my mother’s love for preserving, inspired me to see what fine basil jelly creation I could put together, resulting in some legendary jars of jelly.

In my search for a recipe, I came across your website for rose petal jelly, which I am going to try out. Your pictures are amazing and I love the step by step illustrated detailed description of the preparation process. I noticed that most recipes include either powdered or liquid pectin, and yours omits it. I did read that the lemon juice causes jelling, but just wanted to make sure I should not include pectin if I want to can the jars of jelly and eat them later.

Thanks for an inspiring blog of shear rose petal jelly perfection!

Cynthe September 7, 2011 at 7:41 am

Melissa ~ You are SO kind. Readers like you are one reason I write FWB.

And I LOVE reading your veggie / preserving ‘herstory.’ Wonderful, too, that you taught at-risk kids some of these nurturing skills of tending the earth & plants that feed us. Yeah, as kids we don’t appreciate the practicality and work of veggie gardens, but it really is awesome to be able to grow one’s own food…or at least the rarer, more specialized produce that you’d not find in the grocery store. Our local jail teaches adult inmates similar skills, but mainly with California natives: perennials, shrubs, and trees. Gardening can change lives. It certainly has enriched mine.

…and has lead to my interest in preserving, not so much to save the bounty of my garden, but as a culinary art form. Yes, you’ve read the recipe correctly. I don’t use packaged pectin. I do use lemons, other citrus fruits, and apples for their natural pectin in my recipes. This allows me to use a ‘bit less’ sugar. Though it’s important not to alter the sugar proportions too much as sugar is the preservative.

I’ve been making jams for over a decade. The finished jams store just fine as long as the jars are sealed correctly. I did notice in my Meyer Lemon Honey Jelly that it was a bit soft….wondered if the enzymes in the honey may have affected the ‘jell.’ Or perhaps I didn’t cook it quite long enough. I’ve had my apple jellies seize-up and sometimes I get nervous about avoiding that inconvenience or impatient to have the jelly done.

Do you live locally (near Santa Rosa, CA)? If so, I’d love trading a jam or jelly with you. Basil Jelly sounds delish….especially since you describe it as ‘lengendary!’

ruffhouseranch November 6, 2011 at 7:17 am

Hi there, yesterday I felt inspired. After I made my fig jam I decided to find a rose jam recipe and came upon yours. I failed miserably though. I followed your recipe to a “T” and it never “set”. I cooked it for almost 20 minutes longer than you recommended and then it finally got thicker, now my problem is I think it almost turned into candy. Any suggestions?

Cynthe November 6, 2011 at 8:48 am

Oh, Jennifer ~ That’s SO frustrating! After all the rose petal prep.

Do you use a candy thermometer to keep an eye on the temperature? Once it reaches 220F the jam will be set once it cools, even if it doesn’t seem like it while it’s hot. Did you test it with the freezer method: chilling some spoons, putting a dab of jam on the cold spoon, pushing it with your finger to see if it ‘wrinkles?’ If it does, it’s set.

You may salvage your rose jam by reprocessing it. Add some water and perhaps more fresh lemon juice. Bring it back up to temperature, test with the freezer method, re-filli your washed, dry, warm jars. I’ve done that for jams I accidentally overcooked ending up with jars filled with tasty sweet glue! It works fine, though jellies especially might not be perfectly smooth. Let me know how it works.

Sakura Kuchiki September 19, 2012 at 4:38 am

it’s awesome! thank you!

Cynthe October 3, 2012 at 7:50 am

Thanks! Sakura ~ I hope to make another batch this month with the last of the rose petals.

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