By Maria Price
May is the season for roses, especially heirloom roses. Most varieties bloom throughout May and June, and then repeat their bloom later. With all the early spring rain we’ve had, the roses in my garden are absolutely beautiful this year. Not only beautiful, but their fragrance is captivating.
I take inspiration from my garden. The last two years have been so difficult with COVID; my garden seemed to encourage me to celebrate with the help of the roses. I decided to prepare a luncheon with the use of roses. The sweet fragrance wafting from the garden helped to put everyone in a good mood and a relaxed spirit.
I made rose syrup from the most fragrant rose petals and combined it with lemonade, tonic water and rose water to create a refreshing light pink drink with a delicate rose flavor. I made chicken salad with homemade rosemary mayonnaise, black olives and magenta rose petals. For dessert, I made rosette cookies with a rosy buttercream.
Heirloom roses have edible petals that can be incorporated into many recipes. My favorite roses for fragrance and flavor are Hansa, which has a clove-like scent, Belle Poitevine, which has a sweet rosy scent, and Charles de Mills, which is a rich magenta with a spicy sweet scent. Pick your petals early in the day and store in the refrigerator until you have enough. The more intensely scented roses tend to taste like their fragrance, so the more aromatic the rose is, the more flavor it has.
Most roses do best in deep fertile, moist, well-drained soils with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5. Full sun and good air circulation is important to reduce disease and insects predation. I add compost, organic fertilizer (8-4-4) and alfalfa pellets to feed the roses. Fish emulsion and manure tea is also good for growth.
To make the rosette sugar cookies, cream 1 cup unsalted butter, 1 cup sugar, one large egg, three cups flour, one teaspoon salt and a half a teaspoon of almond extract. Roll the dough into a log about 2 inches in diameter.Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for about one hour. Slice the dough into 1/4 inch thick slices and place on parchment paper on a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool completely. Make buttercream icing with 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter. Five cups confectioner sugar, 4 tablespoons rosewater, 1/4 cup rose petal jam and food coloring. Blend until smooth and pipe with a star tip onto the cookies.
If you and your friends need a pick me up after these last two years, try hosting a rose garden party.