Over the weekend I walked out to our little thicket of wild roses to pick rose petals.
I've wanted to make rose petal jelly or jam for literally years. Somehow I never have. But last weekend I resolved that I would go gather enough rose petals and just.do.it.
Hubby insisted I take a "snake stick" so I could flush out any reptiles, but all I saw was a scared bunny that scampered off at the sight of me. I crossed deer tracks in two places - that was a very large deer judging by the size of the prints - and saw evidence that our neighbors' cows have come calling recently.
Wild roses grow all along the roads here, but please don't use flowers (or other plants) that grow on the roadside. Emissions from car exhaust systems and lead in the soil have ruined these plants for anything other than visual pleasure. Also be sure to use flowers that haven't been treated with herbicides or pesticides. I know the plants on my own land haven't been sprayed and are far from the road.
The rose thicket is huge this year because of all the rain we've had. I've never seen so many roses. They are little six-petaled pink blossoms, not the domesticated roses we grow in our yards. The air was buzzing with the noise of many bees. I'm so thankful for the wild pollinators. I want a hive of bees of my own, but it didn't happen this year.
I felt a bit bad about taking the flowers, but I left the centers with the pollen for the bees, and there were many, many flowers and buds left when I had filled my basket. Hopefully there will be lots of rose hips later this summer. I've never managed to go foraging for those either.
Back in the house I sifted through the petals and pulled out a few little leaves and an ant, and left some yellow pollen on the bottom of the basket. I'd gathered four cups of leaves, lightly packed in the measuring cup. That's enough for two batches of rose petal jelly.
I'd bought a carton of squat, half-pint jars to use for this jelly. I washed them and set them aside while I made the jelly.
To make rose petal jelly, you'll need:
2 cups of fresh rose petals
2 cups filtered water
2 cups of sugar
juice of one lemon (about 3 tablespoons)
1 box of pectin
To begin, add the rose petals and filtered water to a pot. Turn on the heat and simmer gently for ten minutes. (At this point, I turned off the heat and went outside for half an hour to help hubby with a project. That time isn't included in the recipe but I'm sure it didn't hurt it.)
As it simmers, the color of the petals washes out and they get very pale. After ten minutes, pour through a strainer to remove the spent rose petals. Return the juice to the pot.
Add most of the sugar, reserving about 1/4 cup. Stir the juice so the sugar dissolves.
Next, add the lemon juice. The color changes when you do this; if you're making jam instead of jelly, the rose petals supposedly gain their color back when you add the lemon juice. Let this simmer for about ten minutes.
Mix the reserved sugar with the pectin and add to the pot. Simmer for another 20 minutes, then ladle into sterilized jars.
You can store your jelly in the refrigerator for up to six months, or you can water-bath can it to give it a longer shelf life. Makes about six 4-ounce jars.
How marvelous will this be, spooned onto hot, homemade biscuits in the middle of wintertime? or on dinner rolls? or English muffins? I don't think I'll wait until winter to find out.
When the Wild Roses Bloom
Harvest Apple Jelly (with directions on how to can jelly)
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