Wondering what to do with all those roses you got for Valentine’s Day? Well here’s some food for thought. According to What’s Cooking America: “All roses are edible, with flavor reminiscent of strawberries and green apples. Sweet, with subtle undertones ranging from fruit to mint to spice. The miniature varieties can garnish ice cream and desserts, or larger petals can be sprinkled on desserts or salads.” All the more reason to include this infusion as part of your pantry oils. The delicate bouquet of citrus, lavender, and rose evokes the refreshing scent of a spring rain. It blends exceptionally well with raspberry vinegar for a delicate vinaigrette. Tossed into a curly endive salad of orange sections, fresh shaved fennel, apples, candied walnuts, and dried cranberries, and you have the perfect brunch salad. With a flavor profile similar to herbs de Provence, the oil pairs equally well with fish, chicken, and vegetables. Does the essence of rose in cooking make the food taste, perfumey? Not at all. In fact, the roses soften the sharp tones of the lavender while the citrus notes carry the trio for a light harmonious blend.
Recipe notes: What you’ll need: Glass jar, bowl, fine mesh strainer, cheesecloth. Infusion is prepared in 4-easy steps. Total active prep time 15-minutes. Difficulty level: moderately easy
FYI: When infusing oils with fresh ingredients, food safety is paramount. Unlike like dry ingredients, fresh ingredients contain water, which allows bacteria to live and grow. Clostridium botulinum (C. bot) thrives in an oxygen-free environment like oil. This is why certain precautions should be adhered to in preparation, and in storing to prevent botulism poisoning.
- 1/2 cup dried rose petals ( can be sourced from the international section of markets carrying Middle Eastern foods.)
- 1-tsp dried lavender
- 2-peeled strips from a lime
- 2-peeled strips from an orange
- 2-peeled strips from a lemon
- 1-cup grape seed oil
- 2-cup fresh rose petals (preferably red)
- Twist and pluck fresh roses from base of sepal and store petals in plastic container in refrigerator while oil cures.
- Using a vegetable peeler, peel 2-strips per citrus starting from top and working to the bottom of fruit, avoiding the white bitter part.
- Place dry petals, lavender, and citrus peelings in glass Mason jar.
- Heat oil in microwave for 2-minutes and pour over ingredients.
- Allow to cool. Cover jar and refrigerate for 1-week.
One week later:
- Remove infusion and rose petals from refrigerator.
- Bring water to a boil in a 2-qt saucepan. Meanwhile prepare ice water bath in a large bowl for blanching* rose petals.
- Drop rose petals in boiling water for no more than 30-seconds.
- Immediately strain and place petals in ice bath for a full 5-minutes.
- Strain and transfer to a cloth towel. Place a second towel on top and gently pat petals dry.
- Transfer oil infusion to blender, add blanched rose petals and puree.
- This pummeling process releases the color and flavors from the roses, lavender, and citrus.
- Pour unstrained puree into glass jar, cover and refrigerate for two days to fully cure the oil
Day-2: For easy straining, let puree sit for 1-hour at room temperature.
- Place double layer of cheesecloth in a fine mesh strainer over bowl and strain puree.
- Using the back of a spoon, gently press puree to extract oil.
- Gather corner edges of cheesecloth and bring together to form a bag and secure with a rubber band.
- Pinching the banded portion of the bag with one hand, gently counter twist bag with the other to squeeze out remaining oil.
- Discard sachet and strain oil a second time to remove any fragmented impurities.
- Store in refrigerator for 1 month. Bring to room temperature before using.
*Blanching is a cooking term for shocking fruit, vegetables, or herbs by scalding in boiling water for a short period then immersing them in an ice bath to halt the cooking process, soften the fibers, release flavor, and retain color.