Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Jam Diaries, Pt. 1

Dear Diary,

I have a confession. While I most definitely like jam — a lot, really — we just don't eat that much around our house. On my toast I tend to prefer just butter or the addition of something savory (and fatty) like cheese or ham. We do use it frequently for our stand-by dessert: plain yogurt with jam mixed in — but beyond that we tend to have jars rattling around the fridge for a good long time.

Garden full of roses at my sister's place
I have discovered the exception to this rule. As part of my recent jam/jelly-making mania, I found my secret sauce: rose petal jelly.

Inspired not least of all by the incredibly fragrant blue magenta roses that fill my sister's backyard in Berkeley, and by memories of floral jellies in France, I had been wanting to make something with roses for a while. After my sister brought me a bunch of roses, I did some online research and settled on this recipe - mostly because it required about the right amount of petals I had on hand.

Preparing the rose petals
A friend had also brought me a bouquet of garden flowers which included a gorgeous pink rose, so once I enjoyed its bloom for a few days, I added that into the mix. And my sister's harvest had included a single red long-stem rose that totally looked like it had come from a florist (but smelled divine) - key difference here being that it was grown in her yard, organically and without pesticides. This is crucial if you are using rose or flower petals for cooking - you must use pesticide-free ingredients!

After removing the petals from all the roses, you wash them and trim off the bottom white part of the petal which can turn your creation bitter if used. This is the kind of jelly prep you dream of right? Snip, into the measuring cup, voila.

After steeping the petals in boiled water for 10 minutes, you strain the liquid, squeezing every precious drop of fragrant goodness from the petals. Apparently your infusion can at this stage have turned a muddied color, which magically is transformed with the addition of the lemon juice, but mine was actually already a lovely red/pink color strangely evocative of Hawaiian Punch (sorry, no picture) and didn't really change after adding the lemon. You then add the pectin and sugar, boil for a mere two minutes and get it into jars. Process for 10 minutes and you've got yourself a batch of incredible jelly.

Cooling jars
Aside from polishing off the small unprocessed jar that went straight to the fridge, I immediately gave my sister a big jar and have given a number of others away as gifts, so as I'm now readying items for this weekend's swap, I'm reluctantly assessing how many of these beauties I can part with. This stuff is like my own personal liquid gold after all.

Biting into jelly toast
Glowing like gems
Swap-ready

7 comments:

  1. so cool! What does it taste like?

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  2. it tastes like roses smell. so delicious!

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  3. Aimée, I am from Brazil, and I am doing a research on canning, home made jelly ... I really want to give it a try, once this is something that really enjoy eating and will for sure enjoy making my own. And this rose petals jelly .. oh my... Look so incredible! Thank you very much for sharing, and I will let you know as soon as I try it.
    Beijos!

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  4. My mom used to make this...but she would only use a particular type/cultivar of rose for it, because she said it was much better and more flavorful. Also, I had a friend who used to make a rose water (not like the commercial kinds you can get at middle eastern places, this was much more intense). Your post made me want to get the details on both of these, and I will post anything if I find it out.

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  5. Voyage 2Sun - Yes, please report back on any findings/experimentation!

    Cacau - Just go for it! Canning was something I always wanted to do too, and just learned this summer. Be warned though, once you start it's hard to reign in! Have fun and let me know how it goes for you.

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  6. Does it need to be fragrant roses?

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    1. My sense is fragrant will turn out more flavorful, but I don't actually know. Try it out and report back!

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