Life may be too short to stuff a mushroom, as Shirley Conran once famously observed, but I hope it’s long enough to make rose vinegar.
When I say “make”, it’s just a question of soaking scented rose petals in white wine vinegar for a couple of weeks. You don’t really have to do anything. Time and a little window sunlight do the job for you. And the result is jewel-coloured and frankly a little magical; remember those perfume potions you tried to make from rose petals and tap water when you were a kid? They never worked. Well, this one does. It can be used to make exotic salad dressings or to sour cream or milk for baking purposes; I’ve used it to sour cream for a devil’s food cake chocolate frosting which was out of this world.
Of course, the devil is in the detail and first you have to track down your scented rose. Do please ask your neighbour first if they mind before you lop any blooms from across the hedge. If you want to buy a commercially produced rose to make this, do check whether your rose is suitable for culinary purposes (i.e. that it hasn’t been sprayed with anything deadly to man and beast). Tip: it’s best to use a dark rose. Apparently the darker the rose, as a rule of thumb, the stronger the scent. You certainly won’t get that lovely ruby colour without it. This rose grows in my garden and has the most wonderful velvety texture and scent. I have no idea what its name is, but I wait for it to blossom each May with real anticipation.
A luxuriously scented red rose from my garden
If you’re lucky enough to have access to garden roses, pick your newly opened rose in the morning, after the dew has been evaporated by any sunlight that you’re fortunate enough to have (I live in England so this is a sore point); that’s when your rose has the strongest scent. If you’re really picky, give your rose a wash, but you may wash away a good deal of the scent too. My policy is simply to remove any obvious wildlife, and I haven’t found any nasties in my resulting vinegar yet.
Now locate a clean bottle or wide-mouthed jar. Place in this the petals which you now remove from your rose. One rose’s worth of petals is usually sufficient.
Place the petals in a clean bottle or jar
Add enough white wine vinegar to cover the petals, or fill to top, as desired.
Leave on a sunny windowsill for about 2 weeks
Seal and leave bottle/jar on a sunny windowsill for about 2 weeks.
This is what you get after just one day - colour/flavour will intensify further
Strain through a sieve and/or muslin and re-bottle (in a spankingly clean receptacle). Seal with a cork, label, enjoy or give away to a grateful friend/bemused adversary. This is one of those projects which is both thrifty and luxurious (I love that!). If you try it, tell me what you think of it, or what you make from it. If you’re baffled that anyone should do such a thing, please have a go. I promise that, in the depths of winter, you’ll uncork that bottle, sniff it and remember those warm summer days with real pleasure.
Velvety red rose