Wild Rose Petal Jam
Rose petal jam is often made with cultivated roses, which tend to have a stronger colour and perfume than their wild cousins. However, there are distinct advantages to using wild roses: firstly, you know they will not have been sprayed with chemicals (though you must be sure to pick them well away from any roads or agricultural fields); secondly, the texture of their petals is more delicate, so they require less cooking and their flavour is less bitter; and finally, their scent is more subtle and, we think, more appetising. They make a sweet, softly set preserve with a luscious texture and a gentle but distinctive perfume. The jam is perfect with scones, in cakes, or served for breakfast with warm brioche or toast.
This recipe uses jam sugar, which is available in most supermarkets. It has added pectin, to help the jam to set, which means you don’t need to cook the petals for too long and risk losing their aroma. To allow the rose hips to develop in the autumn, gather just the petals rather than picking whole flowerheads. Collect them on a dry, sunny day, choosing flowers that have recently opened (these often have a slightly deeper colour), and avoid those with faded petals that are beginning to fall, as these will have lost much of their scent.
- 75g wild rose petals
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 400g jam sugar
- Pick over the rose petals, shaking off any dirt, detritus and unwanted stowaways. Discard any petals that are browned and shrivelled. Put a saucer into the freezer to chill.
- Put 350ml water into a medium sized pan, set it over high heat, and bring the water to the boil. Add the petals, stirring them in as they wilt down, and simmer as gently as possible, with a lid on the pan, for about 10 minutes (they will lose their colour, but don’t worry).
- After ten minutes is up, add the lemon juice, which will magically restore some of the petals’ colour. Add the sugar and stir well. Raise the heat under the pan and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Simmer the mixture steadily for 20 minutes, then remove the saucer from the freezer.
- Test the set of the jam by putting a teaspoon of the mixture onto the cold saucer. Leave it for a few seconds, then push the edge of the puddle with your fingertip. If it has formed a skin that wrinkles when you push it, the jam is ready. If not, return the saucer to the freezer, boil the mixture for another 5 minutes and test again.
- Pour the jam into a warm sterilised jar (if you are using several smaller jars, ladle the jam from the pan, to ensure an even distribution of petals) leaving a little gap at the top. Seal while hot and leave the jars to cool on a rack.
- Stored unopened in a cool dry place, the jam should keep for up to 12 months.
Recipe and photos by Otherwise for Wild Food UK