September 11, 2011

A fragrant treat: rose petal jelly

This year's rose crop was excellent (even the deer thought so :P ); it was a very good year for rose petal jelly.  I took photos this year during jelly making, as the transformation is fairly striking.

The roses I use are primarily 'La Ville de Bruxelles', my favorite of my Damasks:

I remove the petals from the calyces, measure,

soak to rinse and remove rose beetles if there are any (none this year; the beneficial nematodes were a success!),
  and simmer. 

When the color and flavor have been extracted,

 (and how glorious the house smells while this is happening!),

I strain the petals, pressing the marc to extract the flavor.

and add lemon juice which revives the roses' color and corrects acidity for jelling.

There is a merest shimmery rainbow of essential oil floating on the surface, I tried to catch it in the photos but my camera (my mp3 player!) couldn't see it.

Then I finish the process with pectin, sugar, lids and rings, water bath and when cool, a pretty topper and label.  This year I found little satin roses to add for a whimsical touch, and to help color code my jams and jellies. 
As I believe gardening, and life really, should be about joy, and this was a great rose jelly year, I kept a couple of jars for my own pantry and for gifts; the rest I'll sell at market.

Autumn Creeping In

Though it's been down to 35F several nights, frost so far has skirted the farm, which is really odd, but then this season is the strangest one, weather-wise, I can remember.  It was cold and wet, up until mid-late July, and then WHAM, hot...then cold and wet again, then hot, and has stayed hot.  Truly, 90's, even 80's are just WRONG for this time of year.  The plants are confused.  I've seen flowers on forsythia recently! 

It's just beginning to be cool enough to do the fall digging, both harvesting and setting in, that needs to be done, and with daylight telescoping down now, the race is on to get as much done as possible.  This week, I hope to get peonies dug and re-set, spaces made for next spring's fruit trees, the last of the lavenders lined out, perennial babies moved up or out, and the snowbirds brought at least to the porch, if not inside.  I've made the mistake in the past of thinking 'nah, it's not going to freeze tonight, it's cloudy' at twilight, only to wake up at 6 to ice on the miserable lemongrass.  So that's getting done first this year. 

With the herb harvest, I've been working on new designs for sachets and cat toys, and will be lurking a bit in fabric stores for certain bits and colorways.  The rose petals I turned almost all into jelly this year, instead of any liqueur, and the garlic-rosemary jelly turned out very nicely, zippy/tangy and not so sweet; I plan to give an armload of lemongrass the same treatment this week.  I found some darling satin roses in different colors late last winter, and have added them to the ties for the jelly toppers; I knew I'd find a reason to have them, if I got them!

The back porch roof needs re-doing, and that is #1 in serious projects, it should only take a few days at most, but I may end up jobbing it out so I can focus on digging; cutting metal is not my favorite thing.