June 2016: Eating Roses

Rose petal jam and hummingbird nectar, in my kitchen Monday morning. …………haiku by Maraleen

It is with immense joy that I can once gain make rose petal jam, this time from my very own rosa rugosas.

Way back in the 1970’s when I lived in Provincetown, on the tip of Cape Cod, and where I had a gallery, Chrysalis, A Place for Dreamers, every June I would bicycle about ten miles through a beech forest to the dunes by the ocean.  All along the tall dunes were thousands of rosa rugosas, wild roses, in the first bloom of summer. The smell of  these fragrant roses, mixed with the salty, briney scent of the sea, is indelibly embedded in my memory and soul as one of the more divine scents ever.

I would gather rose petals, carefully snipping off the white cuticle (it’s bitter), and when I had filled two bags, balancing them on my handlebars, I’d  bike back to make rose petal jam from a recipe by Euell Gibbons in his book, Stalking the Healthful Herbs.

For your pleasure, here’s the receipe:  prepare one cup tightly packed petals (cuticles removed as you gather them). Put in a blender with 3/4 cup water and juice of one lemon. Blend until smooth, then gradually adding 2 1/2 c sugar while the blender is running and the sugar well dissolved. Stir one package powedered pectin in 3/4 cup water and hard boil for a minute, constantly stirring.  Running the blender on low, slowly dribble the pectin into the rose mixture and mix till thoroughly blended.  Sterilize little jars, baby food jars will do, and let cool.   It will keep in the refrigerator for a month or you can freeze them and open at Thanksgiving or Christmas for a marvelous taste of summer.  A jar of jam was part of my holiday presents to friends.

All these many years later, now living in the Catskill mountains for thirteen years, four years ago I was able to plant and protect a few rosa rugosa bushess (the deer love them)*.  In addition, a friend gave me an English rose, like a many petaled rugosa, and all of them are blooming profusely this year for the first time.  Perhaps it’s the banana peels I’ve been digging in around the roots; apparently roses like the natural potassium this affords them. As I said, its thrilling to make  rose petal jam and now I don’t have to bicycle twenty miles to do it.

* when I brought two rosa roagosas home from the nursery, I put them by the side of the front of the house, till I could plant them the next day.  Those cheeky deer nibbled the plant down.   As the plants were recovering in their home is the ground, the deer once again found them, not only nibbling, but marking the plants with their poop.  Finally, my husband put up deer fencing on either side of our moon garden where the roses reside, and they are growing, blooming, and spreading.

Speaking of divine scents, have you ever smelled a tuberose?  I overwintered a tuberose in our studio.,  watering it once a month. On the moon deck now, it is flowering.  Oh my, absolutely enchanting.



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