For me the art of slowing down and smelling the roses has turned into taking advantage of the surplus of this native shrub behind my house, plucking their petals and creating something delicious. As it is in my garden where I rarely follow my planting plans the same holds true to my style of cooking; recipes are but a base. I’ll admit my first batch, from a recipe I followed, did not set. This led me to taking matters into my own hands, going with the flow and trusting my strong sense of jamming. So, queue up some Bob Marley as I guide you to making your very own wild rose jelly.
≈4 cups wild rose petals, lightly packed
4½ cups boiling water
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
5½ cups sugar
2 pkgs liquid pectin
Other: cheesecloth, jars, lids, tops, a big pot & lots of love
Start by foraging for rose petals: try to pick in areas away from the roadside and pick higher then a dog may pee! Give them a small bath in the sink to get rid of the majority of bigger bugs and pick out any of the greens. Don’t stress too much about getting everything, as you’ll end up straining the lot later. Place them in a nonreactive bowl, cover with the boiling water and allow steep for 1-2hrs. The petals will lose their colour and look quite dull but patience is key here.
While your petals are steeping prepare your jelly vessels. This recipe makes approximately 8-9 cups of liquid gold; I use a mishmash of 125ml and 250ml jars and usually prepare a few more then what’s needed, just incase. Wash every thing then put the lids and tops in a pot submerged in water and place on the stove over medium-high heat. Jars can go on a cookie sheet in the oven at 250°F. You want these to sit in their respective mediums for at least an hour.
When you’re satisfied with how long the petals have steeped or you can’t wait any longer get ready for some magic. Add the lemon juice and watch the water go from blah to vibrant pink! It’s science.
Pour the petals and water through a strainer lined with cheesecloth straight into a big pot squeezing all the liquid out that you can. You want 4 cups of rose water; if you’re a bit short just add a bit of filtered water. I found this recipe made the right amount of water so you should be fine but feel free to measure if you’re not sure. I like to wing things. Add the sugar and bring up to a boil, stirring to ensure all the sugar incorporates into the rose water. Once at a hard boil keep it here for 2 minutes skimming any foam off the top. After the time has elapsed remove from the heat, add the pectin and stir to combine for 5-6 minutes – no less – more is okay but no less.
Now you’re ready to put your creation into jars and await the sweet satisfying sound of popping lids. Some recipes call for a water bath to finish the canning process but I’ve never done that. I just go with what my mom taught me, which is what’s outlined here, and it’s never failed me just like her.
This simple tasty treat can be enjoyed may ways but my favourite thus far is on coconut ice cream or straight out of the jar… Happy jammin’!