Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Rose Harvest

 I am lucky enough to have two sprawling summer roses on my property, one yellow and one red. Each one explodes in a shower of blooms this time of year and gives off a heavenly scent into the yard. While a lovely flower, one cannot overlook the practical uses of roses as well.
In order to get the best harvest, I pick the petals carefully. You see, the fruit of the plants - a rose hip - is every bit as desirable as the flowers, and I want to have my cake and eat it too. I wait until the petals of the flower are starting to wilt and fall off a bit themselves, then I carefully pull them off, leaving behind the stamen and pistil to allow for the fruit to mature. This careful act also lets you shake out any insects that may be hiding in the flowers.
Now the petals have a slight astringency to them and are recommended for stomach ills and ulcers. They are also delicious! I like to throw some into iced teas and herbal concoctions for the yum factor. Since they are so light one can easily dry them in the bowl you used for gathering, simply turn and fluff them a few times a day as they sit in a cool dry place. Be sure to stick your nose in the bowl every time you check them, just because you can.
 While these yellow ones are destined for teas and tinctures, the bright pink bush is being collected for a special project. I just decanted my first two batches of mead into bottles, and I'm starting a batch that will become a rhydomel, Greek style rose mead. After the initial fast ferment I will add as many cups of rose petals as I can muster to (hopefully) make a nice pink boozy sparkling beverage.
That's not all! I also like to use pink ones to make a rose syrup, perfect for cocktails and teas, perhaps even lemonade? The hips are a great source of vitamin C and make a perfect addition to immune boosting teas in the fall and winter. Many people even make jams, but I'm not sure my bushes are big enough for that kind of shenanigans. Have you checked your yard for flowers that are edible or medicinal? You may be surprised at what you find!

No comments: