If you have ever eaten a Greek or Middle Eastern sweet with a floral flavor you couldn’t quite pin your finger on, it was likely flavored with rose. Yes, like the ones in your garden.
The rose water that is used to make those scrumptious treats is made by distilling rose petals to extract the flavor. This can be done at home, but is a little time consuming. The flavor, though, is divine when added to sweets.
On the other hand, making a rose cordial is super easy. In Greek it’s called σιρόπι τριαντάφυλλο (see-ROH-pee tree-ahn-DAH-fee-loh) which means rose syrup. Sugar, water, lemon juice, and roses are all you need to make this delightful treat. The end result is a sweet elixir that can be used like any other syrup. However, pancakes and waffles are only the tip of the iceberg.
In Greece, this is usually added to a glass of ice water to create a refreshing drink in the hot summer months. How much you use is entirely up to you. It might also be used in place of other syrups on cakes and pastries to add it’s unique floral flavor. Vanilla ice cream is a dream with rose cordial drizzled over, and Greek yogurt plays along very well, too. You can also spritz up a clear soda, or *wink wink* add it to vodka for a lovely after dinner liqueur!
The way rose cordial is made also allows for another lovely treat to be made: candied rose petals. Lovely as a sweet little nibble on it’s own, but also something you could sprinkle over a cake or even add into baked goods like you would any other candied fruit. So really, this is a two-for-one goody! You’re welcome!
Rose Cordial & Candied Rose Petals
It is important to use only fresh, home grown roses that have not been sprayed with any chemicals, or have had any pesticides added to the soil that would be taken up by the plant. Do NOT use roses sold in flower arrangements as they have been treated and may not be safe for eating. The quantities listed below give the basic proportions, but you can make larger batches as desired.
- 1 cup packed rose petals
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
The best roses to choose are those that have a good scent, though any rose type will work. Roses will have the best flavor when picked in the early morning while the temperatures are still cool. Pluck the rose petals from the stem and gently rinse them in a colander to remove any debris or critters. Allow them to drain, but don’t worry if they are still wet.
In a pot large enough to hold the amount you are making, put the water and sugar. Bring to a boil and boil for two minutes, stirring to be sure the sugar dissolves.
Remove from the heat, add the petals and the lemon juice and stir to combine. Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and allow the petals to sit for 24 hours.
After the rose petals have steeped, bring the mixture to a boil again. Boil for one minute then remove from the heat. Carefully strain the syrup through a fine meshed sieve to remove the petals. You may also want to filter the syrup again through a tight weave muslin cloth or coffee filter. Wet the cloth or filter first to keep it from soaking up too much of the syrup. It will filter slowly but will result in a clearer syrup. Store the strained cordial in a clean glass jar in the refrigerator.
Line a flat baking sheet with parchment paper and spread out the petals. It’s okay if they are in small clumps. Sprinkle a little more granulated sugar over the petals and then cover with another layer of parchment paper. Set the tray aside somewhere safe until the petals are dry but still pliable. This will take a few days or more, depending on the humidity in your home. These can be kept stored in an air tight container and will last for a very long time (assuming you let them!).
If you use the cordial to flavor other beverages, add to taste. It won’t take much to spritz up a glass of water or a clear soda like 7-up. When adding to vodka, I find that four parts syrup to 6 parts vodka is quite nice, but that is on the sweet side. I also find that it tastes much better if the mixture is allowed to sit for a few days to give the flavors a chance to blend first. Enjoy!