Special Column
Make rose water at home this summer

By Shanthini Rajkumar

Mar 01, 2019

The loveliest sight during the onset of summer is to see the riot of blooms in their gorgeous hues and shapes. A flower that was most common in the Indian garden is now one that needs to be ferreted out from our garland makers at the poo market. I’m referring to the aromatic paneer rose.

Awhile ago I had mentioned it in my post when talking about the sweet condiment 'gulkhand'. There is however something else that one can make at home with this pretty pink rose ; rose water. This is a product which all of us buy in stores and use for various purposes.To add flavour to frosting, help soothe tired eyes, to welcome guests at weddings etc.

I have fond memories of my mother dampening cotton balls in this perfumed water and placing it over my Dad’s tired eyes when he was back from a grueling evening of sports. Very often my eyes too got some of the rose water tender loving care.To this day, I have a bottle of rose water sitting in my refrigerator, ready to do it’s magic when needed.

A few years ago, when my garden was filled with several of these dainty Damascus roses, I was sad to let them wither and wondered if there was some way one could preserve their fragrance. That’s how I came upon this recipe for home made rose water and have enjoyed making it ever since.

The beauty of this recipe is that it works even with the blossoms which are starting to wither. So the fresh, young flowers stay prettily on the plant and the older ones can be used to make our very own home brewed rose water.

I love how the colours of the rose water vary from a blush pink to an intense sunset orange depending on the pink tinge of the petals.In order for the rose water to retain the aroma, these flowers must be picked at dawn. Do you ever wonder why the bug activity is heightened at that time of day? That’s when the scent of the flowers is at it’s peak.

Making rose water at home is rather simple.There are two ways. After removing the stalk and stamens, the petals must be lightly washed to remove any impurities. Then the petals can be steeped in the sun for 2 days in a jar of distilled water and then strained.

Another way is to boil the rose petals for 10 minutes and allow it to sit in the water for 2 hours to cool before straining. While both methods do make a lovely pink, aromatic water, the sun exposure method is the most traditional.

In former times rose water was used as a cough syrup, to treat reflux and also as a laxative.Containing numerous health benefits,it was used by ancient physicians as an analgesic, bronchodialator, anti convulsive and an anti-inflammatory. It contains vitamins A,C,E and B making it great for treating sore throats and depression.

It is said to be ideal to beat the summer heat. Many of us do use rose water as a skin toner and in a facial especially during the hot months. It is known to be just as effective for the skin when taken internally as a cool drink or a herbal tea. It helps to hydrate the skin from within.

A lemon drink flavoured with some rose water tastes so refreshing. A cup of rose tea is so relaxing for the senses. I do know of many men folk who turn up their nose in disgust when talking of floral teas (my own family included) but it truly does help bring about a happy state of mind.

We should all plant these paneer rose plants in our gardens or even in a pot on the terrace or front porch. These plants are easily available at Surabhi nursery in Coimbatore. To get hold of these flowers one needs to head early in the day to our local poo market before they get sold out.

Making rose water at home is such a joyful task. When making a big batch of rose water, one can also make rose syrup by adding sugar and boiling it to a sticky consistency. Another idea is to add gelatin and sugar and make a natural rose water jelly. One of my best cakes is the pistachio and rose water cake with the rose syrup. Perfect for summer. Do add home made rose water to your list of summer activities.

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