Flooded with Intensely Aromatic Roses

This year we are flooded with intoxicatingly aromatic roses, as Costas managed to multiply the first Rosa Damascena we transplanted from a late neighbor’s garden.

Now we have three thriving plants, and lots of roses to make Rose Petal Jam and the light rose-scented Yogurt Mousse flavored with it. Later when our guests come, we will offer them my refreshing Pomegranate and Rose Petal Granita everyone loves. 



I also dry the fragrant petals –spread on clean towels all over the house– to use later in my herbal teas and in home-made Eastern Mediterranean spice mixes.



The kitchen is filled with the haunting, sensual aroma and although I try, I cannot remember for what reason during my childhood I so hated rose petal jam. I had probably associated it with endless and boring visits to monasteries on family excursions throughout Greece. Nuns traditionally prepare and offer visitors a spoonful of rodozahari (rose petal jam), which I always declined to taste.

Not until I visited Morocco in the early ‘90s did I finally lay the ghost of my youth-trauma hatred of rose petal jam and rose water. Moroccan sweets, but also the savory dishes scented with rose petals, were a revelation to me, and even made me wish I had tasted rodozhari on some of those monastery visits.


I learned that Armenian monks on the Venetian island of San Lazzaro degli Armeni prepare a wonderful rose petal jam, as Emiko Davis writes. His recipe is somewhat different from mine; rose petal jam, at least the one I have seen and tasted, are not that vividly pink as in his pictures, unless one uses artificial coloring. My jam, form pale pink fragrant roses is light amber, while the darker pink petals make a deeper colored jam.

For many years now we have tried to cultivate the old-fashioned heirloom fragrant roses in our garden on Kea – Rosa Damascena and related antique rose varietals – but our dry climate and poor soil has made it very difficult to produce enough rose petals to make the jam. This year is the first time I managed to gather quite a few fragrant rose petals to make a small batch of jam.

But even if you have just a few roses you can complement them with good quality organic dried rose petals, together with good rosewater, as I have done for many years, in order to make a cup of hauntingly aromatic jam to serve with fresh cheese, with ice cream, or with yogurt, and especially with the light Yogurt Mousse that our guests love.

Rose Petal Jam

Pomegranate and Rose Petal Granita  





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