Rose petals are a popular filling for pączki, or Polish doughnuts. So popular that my Polish mom goes crazy over them. Whenever she’s in Poland she will devour dozens of these, and every time our aunt comes back from Poland my mom will have her visit the bakery before going to the airport to pick up some to bring back. This is one of the few things she cannot find in Italy, and it is her mission to look for and feed on these whenever she finds them somewhere.
I guess she could just buy herself a couple of jars of rose petal jam online, but I think this would go against her “rose petal jam hunt”. Store bought can only be brought back from Poland. The only possible alternative is to make her own. And while she was visiting me in Sweden she did. We got some roses and she turned them into her favourite Polish flavour.
What we made, in fact, is what in Polish is called płatki róży w cukrze, rose petals in sugar. Raw, so technically not a proper jam. Jams and marmalades are cooked, while this preserve is not. The petals are blended raw and stored in the fridge. Properly refrigerated and kept in an airtight container, this preserve can last up to a year.
Rose petals in sugar preserve:
- 100 g rose petals
- 200 g sugar
- 1 tsp lime juice
Wash the petals and gently remove any excess water using a salad spinner. Even after that, lay the rose petals out on kitchen paper and leave to air dry, or gently pat dry with more paper. A small residue of water is okay, but they should ideally be almost dry. Some cooks remove the white part where the petal was attached to the rest of the flower, but this is not mandatory. We didn’t. Combine petals, sugar and lime juice and blend with a hand blender. We tried halving this recipe and were still able to make it, but working with smaller quantities might not be enough for the blender blades to properly crush it. The final product should look a bit grainy and strongly pink. Mine could be mistaken for beetroot hummus for the vibrant colour!
Although all roses are edible, and all have their characteristic smell, some of them have a bitter taste. The best kind of rose for this preserve is rosa centifolia, or cabbage rose. It is important to wash the petals, even if using roses from your own home garden which have never been sprayed with any chemicals, as the thick flowers are great hiding spots to little creatures. I found 4 tiny snails while washing them. They were so cute I was tempted to adopt them, but then my rational self took over and I took them all back to the garden. I could have photographed them, but I don’t have a macro lens and they were really tiny.
You can use this rose spread in a variety of cakes and desserts. Its flavour is quite concentrated, so I would recommend blending a small quantity of it to strawberry jam. Together, they become excellent doughnut filling material; or a thin layer of this can be spread over a pie shortcrust before adding its filling for a gentle hint of roses.