A while ago, my friend Oksana gave me the most enchanting gift: a jar of rose petal jam from her mother´s garden. It was of the prettiest colour, a dark deep pinkish red, with countless little petals throughout and that floral perfume that´s almost more beguiling when it ascends from a jar. I really love that kind of old-fashioned flower recipe, and the idea of a having a mouthful of roses to stir into Greek yoghurt or fromage blanc sounded all too tempting, so I wanted to recreate it. For weeks now, I´ve been eyeing at the rose bushes in our garden, and when the buds finally opened about a week ago, sending subtle hints of summer scent towards anyone who crosses our foreyard, it was about time to grab my scissors.
For this jam, the roses you choose have to be fragrant ones – because in this case, what we taste is actually what we smell. I wanted to eat the petals, too, so I liberally plucked off the outer ones which would be chewy, and only kept the inner, tender, more delicate ones for the recipe – just like in Aschenputtel/Cinderella, my daughter´s favorite Grimm´s Märchen: Die guten ins Töpfchen, die schlechten ins Kröpfchen,`The good ones into your pot, the bad ones into your crop`. If you are lucky to own, or have access to, roses with very small, fragrant flowers, ideally in deep pink or red – they would be perfect here. Mine, in contrast, are rather pale, so a few raspberries were welcome not only for a boost in color, but also for tartness; still this jam is quite sweet.
As it gently bubbles away on the stovetop, it´s hard not to be mesmerized by the smell of roses that breezes through the kitchen. And when you finally taste a spoonful, then at the latest, you´ll fall under the spell of cette belle confiture à l´ancienne (this lovely old-fashioned jam).
rose & raspberry jam – about 650 ml (2 bonne maman jars):
adapted from this recipe by Emiko Davies
125 g untreated rose petals
juice of 1 lemon
280 g/ml water
400 g sugar
1 tbsp rose water
125 g raspberries
Use small, delicate, fragrant petals for this recipe, or the “thinner” parts of larger petals. Rinse them carefully under cold water to get rid of any bugs, caterpillars or dirt. Dry gently with kitchen paper or with a few gentle turns in the salad drier.
In a large bowl, add petals with about one third of the sugar, lemon juice, and rose water. Using your hands, gently knead or “massage” rose petals for 2 minutes or so, in order to release flavor and improve the color, but try not to tear them up too much.
Meanwhile, heat water with the remaining sugar. Add rose petal mixture. Strain raspberries through a sieve to remove the kernels, and add to the pot. Bring to a soft boil and allow to cook over low-medium heat for 25-30 minutes; it will not get as thick and jam-like as usual marmalade, but rather syrupy. As I like to stir it into plain yoghurt, the consistency suits me fine. In any case, don´t overcook, or the color will look brownish.