What sort of roses do you need to make rosewater?

All roses make rose water, but the more fragrant the rose the more fragrant the rose water. The whole head of the rose is used, picked as high up the stem as possible with a quick snap. The roses should be picked early in the morning when they have just opened because this is when they contain the most essential oil. It burns off as the day gets warmer. Unfortunately, no enjoying the roses in their splendour in situ – spent roses won’t work.

Hundreds of blooms are required to make any significant amount of rose water. The roses must be allowed to rest in a cool place for an hour after picking to let any insects go free, because it’s the right thing to do, but also to avoid tainting the rose water.

Distilling

Though a homemade contraption can be set up, it doesn’t produce very good quality rosewater. Best to use a still. The still should be filled with roses and water added until the roses can move when stirred but are not swimming. The top goes on and then the still is heated. The steam rises through pipes, winding through a tank of cold water, this makes the steam condense back into a liquid. The liquid is called distillate or flower water which is captured in a bottle and sealed. It takes quite some time for the distillate to come out – it’s definitely not a quick process!

The distillate then needs to mature. It should be kept in a cool place (under 18 degrees C) for at least 6 weeks before use.

Industrial rose water

In industrial production they use huge stainless-steel vats, but we prefer copper because of its healing properties and because it is the traditional way – batch distilling. In industry they re-circulate the distillate again and again to extract the maximum amount of rose essential oil and, what’s left is, to them, rose water. Sometimes when they go on to sell the rose water they have to add essential oil back in!

I’ve made up a recipe for delicious rice pudding with peaches and honey. It’s so good and with only a small amount of honey as a sweetener and plenty of fruit, I think it would be a delicious alternative breakfast. Check it out.

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Best wishes,

Desdemona & Denise