Rose water has been made and used for millennia, at least since the Islamic Golden Age when it was used as a perfume and beverage. In modern times, the purifying and skin softening qualities of those silky rose petals have turned rose water into a beauty ingredient coveted not only for its lovely fragrance. Rose water is one of the gentlest astringents, making it the ideal cleanser and moisturizer for sensitive skin. Rose water is also still heavily used in Persian, Middle Eastern and Indian cultures for culinary purposes. It is often found in desserts such as baklavas, Turkish delight, cookies, ice cream and several drinks such as teas and lassis.
This simple recipe can be used with any type of fragrant rose petals. Damask roses and heirloom climbing roses are the most popular varieties for rose water, as they produce ample blossoms from summer to early fall. If purchasing your rose petals from the store or online, look for dried, organic damask rose petals (Rosa damascena). You’ll want to make sure to use organic petals as the harsh chemicals sprayed on conventional roses are definitely not good for your skin.
How to Make Organic Rose Water
4 quarts fresh organic rose petals or 3 quarts dried organic rose petals
Large pot with an inverted lid (canning pots work well)
A brick that will fit in the pot
A quart size glass Pyrex bowl
Place the brick inside the pot. If you have harvested or bought whole roses, pull the petals off of the center of the flower and place them in the pot. Fill the pot with enough water to just cover the rose petals and the brick. Put the pot on a burner and place the glass bowl on top of the brick. Place the inverted lid on the pot and bring the water to a boil.
Once the water has reached a boil, place a heap of ice cubes on the lid. This is essentially the way a still functions, as the steam from the boiling water rises, hits the cold lid, and condenses in the middle of the lid. The condensed rose water then drips into the glass bowl and retains the essential oils from the rose petals. Keep the water boiling for no longer than 30 minutes, after which you can take the pot off the heat and let it cool. You should have a little less than a quart of rose water in the glass bowl. Once the rose water has cooled down, store it in a glass jar with an airtight lid out of the sun.
Use the rose water to make your own facial toner, perfumes and delicious, floral desserts. Try the same method for making other flower waters such as lavender water or chamomile water and combine them for unique scents and flavors.
Image: Myrtle Glen Farm