We’re great rose growers in New Zealand and lots of rural folk at this time of year can be found hunched over big pots of fragrant sugar, making that most refined of all jams – rose petal jam. You can’t just use any old rose – it has to be a very perfumed one like Floribunda, Old English or Damask for example. The double, old fashioned ones are the best, you must pick them late morning after the dew and they can’t have been sprayed. All roses are edible, though some are more appetising than others. Most of the great perfumes are made of roses. The Arabs invented the distilling process centuries ago and their alembic or quettara stills are basically the same as a modern still – it takes 3.5 kilos of rose petals or orange blossoms to make one gallon of fragrant water. Rose petal water is used to flavour cakes, pastries, desserts, meat stews, salads, ice-creams and sorbets. You can add rosewater to poached apples when cooking, sprinkle it over grated apples for breakfast and add a dash to a cherry clafoutis.
In Morocco where they eat with their fingers, a jug of rose or orange blossom scented water is poured over the hands before and after the meal. Quite often the first thing served at a meal is a glass of cool rose-perfumed almond milk. A spray of it will make a busload of hot tourists smell wonderful and it is widely used in beauty preparations. Scatter crimson rose petals over the dinner table, in fountains and down the driveway so that when the person of your dreams comes home, they will have soft petals underfoot.
If you sleep with a bag of dried rosebuds under your pillow, you will have sweet dreams forever and if you add a drop to mint tea you will never be sad. Eating rose-flavoured sweets is like eating summer and romance and longing. AND fig season has just started!
Stuffed, Roasted Figs
rose blossom water
fresh bay leaves
olive oil in a spray can
- Cut the figs in half but not all the way through and open them up.
- On one half lay a couple of almonds and sprinkle about half a dozen cardamom seeds then sprinkle with a little rosewater.
- Now fold the figs back together again.
- Preheat the oven to 180C. Spray a shallow oven dish just big enough to hold the figs with olive oil then pack the figs in upright. Fold bay leaves around the figs here and there. Spray with oil, sprinkle with a little more rosewater and roast for half an hour or until golden on top.
- Allow to cool before eating with crème fraîche, rose blossom meringues and strong coffee with cardamom seeds in it.