Roses are a cool weather flower..they do well between 40 and 80 degrees.......then when the really hot hot weather hits, they sort of go dormant, don't produce as many blooms.....and when it cools down, they bloom like crazy! The kind of heat and all the rain in the early part of July was just awful for the poor things!!! They would get all their blooms and then be drenched for days, and the blooms just mouldered ........Now that we are cool again, and dry, they are blooming gang busters and NOW is the time to do rose water before the next heat wave or week long rain!
Collect the petals before 10 AM, after the dew is off, but before the heat of the day begins- you want the oil essence to be the strongest in the petal.
2 c packed rose petals
1 qt. distilled water
1 c ethyl alcohol ( 70 % proof)- side note- it has been harder and harder for me to find this alcohol...so I began using a cheap bottle of Vodka- that was 70 % proof. You will not have the scent of the Vodka.......nor the taste!
1 T powdered Orris root
A 1 gallon clear, glass jug with a lid. (like a cider one you get in the store)
Place rose petals and 1c distilled water in a blender and blend well. Pour into the gallon jug. Add remaining ingredients, mix well-I use the handle of a very long wooden spoon. Place jug out in the sun, every day, for 2 weeks. ( take it in at night). After 2 weeks, strain thru coffee filters into quart jars. This will be a slow process, you do not want any of the rose sludge in your rose water. I use a canning funnel, the wide mouth type, and plastic clip clothespins, to pin the filter to the funnel, so it will not fall into the jar. The tail end will be all sludge in the filter, so you will have to help squeeze it thru......change the filters often while straining, and rub the filters on your arms and neck!!!! You will smell like a rose!!! This make 1 and 1/2 quarts rose water.
The sun process is taking the oils out of the petals, you will see a huge change in the mixture, after the first day. At first it will be cloudy and not so pretty, then it begin to separate, water to the top, sludge to the bottom, and the color begins to deepen to a pretty magenta. Now, that is, IF you use red rose petals. and red is preferred, as they are the strongest scent...you can toss in some pinks too, whites and yellows will be a wasted effort.....in rose water you really need the heavier scents. Use it in your bath, rinse your hair with it, rub it on your arms and neck. It may leave a very slight tinge of color on your skin, but it will fade as it dries..I cannot distill the color out....just the scent. You would need a higher tech lab, then what I do at home!!! But it will not stain clothes if some gets on them.
I try to make this twice in a season- always the first of Spring- I do rose water, then rose petal jelly, and then I hope and wait, for the second big bloom, after all the heat. You want to take the petals now, and not too far into August, because the roses need to bloom at least once more before Fall, and develop the rose hips, which feeds the roots for winter. When your roses bloom in Sept, Oct, let them bloom, and let the petals fall, and the hips will form.......and they are set for the long cold season.
Now, this basic recipe is used for Lilac water, lavender water, Mock Orange water, Peony water. I follow the flowers thru the season. Lilacs would be the first, then the Mock Orange, rose, peony, lavender. Each will make a little more,or, a little less, because of the size of the petals, even tho you use the 1 qt. distilled water, the larger petals produce more scent, the smaller ones, produce less. I love lavender, but the buds are so small...it takes a LOT for 2 c! And the return, is so much less, but-boy...you have your very own scent!!! When you have several jars of scents made over the Summer, you can experiment with mixung them, a little of one, and such. I always liked the pure scents, but have mixed teeny bottles on occassion- for a friend, or just for the bath...
When I begin making my floral waters in the Spring, I see how the blooms are doing, and many times I double the recipe. Very seldom have I done the 2 c of blooms- with lavender tho, I have no choice -lavender can be fickle, and they are tiny. 2 c of lavender blooms, yielded me, last year- just about 3/4 c scent!!!!
I have made these floral waters for over 30 years now, and still enjoy it- no one that I know, in at least, my county-!!! Makes floral waters for the home. I have seen many vendors at fairs and markets, with scents- but you know what? They made them using all bottled essential oils- which is fine- they are good too-but YOU will have the REAL waters, from real petals.....that you did!! And I like that idea, don't you? A few minutes picking...few minutes more preparing, then in and out of the sun for 2 weeks....the longest time you will spend with this is in the straining..it is slow.
Be sure to use a majority of reds......some pinks, if you are short on petals- hot oranges are fine- the darks are the heaviest scents.
DRYING ROSE BUDS
Pick the closed buds, or a partially opened bloom, cut it below the 7 leaves that are on the stem-it will give you a nice stem for tying to dry, and to stand in a vase. Gather them before after the dew is off and at least by 10 Am. Tie them together with a string and hang upside down , somewhere where sunlight will not be on them. You can leave a few leaves on them-they will dry too.
You can dry opened blooms also, be sure they are new blooms, not a few days old, as the petals will fall off. Cut the same as the buds, and then place the blooms face down on a cake rack, or a small screen, and leave them. They will dry that way, as a full bloom. You can also do the petals, pick as many as you want, and then place them individually on the cake rack or screen to dry. The dried blooms and buds are nice for a winter vase, and the petals can be put in a glass bowl on a table......when the petals are in the bowl, toss them gently with 1 t of mace- it will enhance the scent and make it last longer.
Sunlight is deadly, to anything you do with nature, your canned good, waters, dried flowers- so hopefully you can find spots that do not get any sun,for your storage, and drying.
You can decant the rose water into pretty bottles too- I have 3 that I use, and place on a shelf in the bathroom, and fill them as needed from the bigger jars.
With your dried roses, you can make floral arrangements of just the roses, or, if you have been drying other flowers, you can combine them in a bigger arrangement. They will last all winter- and come spring you have compost!! Dried flowers can brighten a dreary winter day in January. They also make nice gifts at Christmas, pretty little bouquets you can make for friends. If you have essential oils, a few drops of rose, on the dried blooms, will make the scent last too- and you can add about 20 drops to your water also, if you want a stronger scent. There are also essential oils for orange, lilac, and lavender. I buy my oils from San Francisco Herb Company-they have been in business, at least all the years I have been doing this, and they have an on-line store for ordering.