Rose Petal Jam

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     The following recipe is based on one in The Glorious Foods of Greece by Diane Kochilas, which is in turn based on the famous rose jam made for more than a century by the monks of the Taxiarhon Monastery high in the Rodopi Mountains. In this area of the world, people are fond of what are known as “spoon sweets” - seasonal fruits that are cooked with sugar  and preserved in jars to be enjoyed all year round, but especially when the weather has gone cold and gloomy and fresh fruit is hard to come by.


    I recommend making this jam on a lovely sunny morning, as it begins with a little bit of exercise - a stroll around the garden (or beach - rugosas are delicious in this) to gather roses. Look for fully open, but not over-the-hill blossoms, the more fragrant the better.  And of course, make sure the roses haven’t been sprayed with pesticides or other chemicals. If your blooms are medium-large and semi-double, you’ll probably need 50 or so of them to come up with 4 ounces of petals. Lacking a scale, use 2 cups or so of loosely packed petals.


    The next bit of exercise in the recipe involves kneading the roses to a pulp with the sugar, which is the kind of chore that people who love to cook love to do. The rose aroma wafts around the kitchen while the mess of petals and sugar gradually, satisfyingly coalesces into a kind of sweet rose clay, very much like the wet sand that is perfect for sandcastles.


    The final bit of exercise in the recipe is ten minutes or so of pot stirring and foam skimming, while the sugar, water, lemon juice and rose petals meld together and thicken to a syrupy consistency that will finish jelling in the jar. Better to cook this jam too little than too much - it should come out of the jar soft and a little runny, a true spoon sweet.


Rose Petal Jam


  1. 4 ounces (about 2 cups) fresh, very fragrant, unsprayed rose petals, tossed in a sieve to remove any pollen or other debris

  2. 1 pound sugar

  3. 1-1/2 cups water

  4. juice of 2 lemons


    Combine the petals and sugar in a bowl and knead the
mixture with your hands for ten minutes or more, until it becomes a fairly homogenous mass. Cover it with plastic and refrigerate  the mixture for at least two hours or overnight.


    Put the rose-sugar mixture into a large,  heavy pot and add the water and lemon juice. Bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring constantly. Let the mixture simmer for about ten minutes, skimming off any foam that forms on top of it. When the liquid in the jam has thickened to the consistency of  maple syrup, it is done - you don’t want to overcook the mixture or it will crystallize and be too thick.

   

    Pour the jam into two very clean one cup jelly jars and seal with clean lids. The jam will keep in the refrigerator for a few weeks, or it may be frozen for up to 6 months.  Preserved like other jams, using canning jars and boiling water, rose jam will keep in a cool dark place for a year.



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