In Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine, rose water is a common ingredient in sweets and it has been used for centuries in cosmetics and perfumes. It is a gentle astringent, making it an ideal skin toner.
But good rose water is hard to find. Most commercially available floral waters (also known as hydrosols) are a combination of synthetic fragrance and water.
Making your own rose water is far easier than you might expect and is a good way to ensure your beautiful cooking ingredient or cosmetic base is pure.
Pure rose water is the distilled water of roses and should contain nothing more, unless you choose to add a small amount of vodka to act as a preservative (a good idea if you don’t plan to use it immediately).
What you’ll need:
2 cups fresh rose petals – don’t pack them in tightly to measure them
Large soup pot with a lid that is rounded so that you can place it upside down
1 brick that fits inside the soup pot
1 teaspoon of vodka (optional, used a preservative)
Small jar/s or sprizter bottles to store the rose water
Place the large soup pot on the stove and the brick inside the pot with the rose petals around the brick (but not on it). Pour in enough water to just cover the top of the brick.
Place the bowl on top of the brick.
Place the lid upside down on the pot and bring the water to boil.
As soon as the water begins to boil, pour ice on top of the lid and lower the heat to a slow simmer.
As the water boils, the steam rises and hits the top of the cold lid. It will then condense, roll down towards the centre of the upturned lid and fall into the bowl. This is your rose water.
Check the rose water after 10 minutes to assess how it’s going. You should have around 400 mL of water that smells and tastes strongly like roses from the 2 cups of rose petals. If you continue to distill for much longer, you will end up with more liquid in the bowl, but it will be substantially diluted and you’ll lose some of the scent.
Carefully remove the bowl from the pot and allow to cool slightly. Add 1 teaspoon of vodka if desired (this acts as a preservative).
Pour into jars or spritzers for immediate use or storing. I’ve stored mine in small glass jars and will use this beautiful floral water as the base for perfume spritzers.
Your remaining rose petals will be blanched but you’ll notice that the end result is clear. Some roses will give a slightly different coloured end result, but it should never look like the distinctly pink products sold on pharmacy shelves.
Pure rose water is a gorgeous little luxury for your skin care routine and is nice to have on hand for making sweet treats such as Turkish delight or nougat. If you have roses in your garden, why not give this DIY a go?