Rose Petal Honey, the last stop on the honey journey, for the moment.
Available widely on the Internet, Rose Petal Honey — like rosewater — dates back several centuries.
These recipes come from old texts gathered by Jean Gordon in Rose Recipes (1958) and Eleanour Sinclair Rohde in Rose Recipes from Olden Times (1939). I give them here only as a point of interest. In other words, don’t try this at home!
Rose Petal Honey
Mash 1/2 pound of sweet scented rose petals with wooden masher. Boil in 1 pint of water 15 minutes. Strain, add 2 pounds strained honey. Boil down to thick syrup. pour into scalded glasses and seal. (Gordon, p. 32, no original source given)
Honey of Roses
Cut the white heels from Red Roses, take halfe a pound of them and put them in a stone jar, and pour on them three pints of boiling water. Stir well and let them stand twelve hours. Then press off the liquor and when it has settled add to it five pounds of honey. Boil it well, and when it is of the consistency of of a thick syrup it is ready to put away. (From Thomas Tyron, A Treatise of Cleanliness in Meates, 1692, as reported by Rohde, p. 90-91.)
Very similar to the recipe above, probably taken from it, is this recipe from the nineteenth century:
Honey of Roses
Take four ounces of dried red Rose petals the white heels cut off before they were dried, three pints of boiling water and five pounds of honey. Pour the boiling water on to the dried Rose petals and leave for six hours. Strain and add the honey. Boil to a thick consistency. (From Rohde, p. 91.)
These recipes don’t include any indication as to how people used the rose-flavored honey. Modern directions for using the honey say to dabble it over scones or crumpets and to put it in tea. The following description points readers in another direction:
Honey of Rose.
Mel Rosatum, P.L. 1721.
MelRosaceum, P.L. 1746.
MelRosce, P.L. 1788, P.L. 1809, P.L. 1824.
Take of Red Rose [Petals] dried, four ounces, Water, boiling, two pints and a half, Honey [despumated] five pounds ; Macerate the Rose Petals in the Water for six hours; then add the Honey to the strained liquor, and boil down, in a water-bath, to a proper consistence.
Medicinal Use.—As an adjunct to detergent and astringent gargles. (From the 4th edition of the Pharmacopeia of the Royal College of Physicians, , p. 204, 1841.)
Some people today just soak rose petals* in honey for 12 hours and then strain the mixture. They suggest refrigerating the honey since the addition of the rose petals means the honey is no longer unadulterated.
Personally, I prefer a little heat applied to the mixture, just in case. Organic might be the way to go these days, but bacteria of a certain sort still live on, on untreated petals. Having had to soak all my so-called organic vegetables in a Clorox solution when I lived in developing countries for 15 years, I know that at times the raw and the natural result in some interesting (and quite unpleasant) “internal” issues.
Changing the subject …
Tracing the history of roses in cooking, now there’s a thought.
*[Note: Be sure to use rose petals untainted by insecticides and herbicides. Organic. And be aware that older instructions used for preservation may not work with materials we have today.]
© 2009 C. Bertelsen