Now we all know that rose water is an easy ingredient to buy. However this was not always the case. Rose water actually was made by hand back in the day. There was no going to the corner HEB and buying rose water so strong you only needed half a cap or even a whole cap full to flavor the cookies, bread or fish. Rose water use to be made from fresh roses. Enough roses to fill an English garden or in this case the Sultan’s garden. It took many many flowers…oh the many flowers!
Take a ratl of dried roses, and cover with three ratls of boiling water, for a night and leave it until they fall apart in the water. Press it and clarify it, take the clear part…
(Anonymous Andalusian Cookbook of the Thriteenth Century)
4 oz dried roses/rose petals
4 C boiling water
Now this recipe is renders less then 4 cups of rose scented/flavored water.
I didn’t want to use American rose petals but rose petals as close to period as possible. Hence the use of Pakistani dried roses. The 4 ozs of rose petals were place into a largish pottery bowl.
4 oz of dried roses takes up a LOT of room. This is roughly about 4-5 cups of rose petals. The dried roses will absorb a lot of water so plan accordingly with amount of rose petals to the amount of water.
After placing the rose petals in the bowl, I poured the boiling water over them, and mooshed (yes this is a technical term) the rose petals down into the water to make sure they are thoroughly saturated.
Let this mixture sit for 24 hours.
The next day, start removing the rose petals a handful at a time.
Squeeze each handful tightly multiple times, over the rose water bowl, till the handful of rose petals no longer leaks scented water. Do this until all the rose petals are removed from the original bowl. You can strain the rose water to remove any remaining petals.
This rose water is NOT like the rose water found in the stores today. This is actually the color of the roses not clear for starters. This rose water is milder, much milder, then bottles we buy today. Today’s rose water is so strong that only a cap full at a time can be used, if that, so that a dish is not over powered with the scent and taste of roses. The home made rose water is a) closer to period and b) far less pervasive then today’s so more can be used.