June is the month of roses and we have at least 13 species of wild rose in Britain including the Dog Rose, Field Rose, Downy Rose and the beautifully named Sweetbriar Rose. Amazingly all roses are edible and no part of them is poisonous. The cultivated roses grown in gardens, once grew in the Caspian and Persian Gulf, they were originally cultivated in the Middle East and Ancient Greece in antiquity. From there grew the amazing array of rose oils (wonderful for the skin), colourings, flavourings, scents, syrups, vinegars, medicines and folklore.
An example of rose folklore in relation to one of our own native wild roses is the name of the dog rose. This was given because it was believed that the root would cure the bite of a mad dog and then there is Pliny’s story of a Roman Soldier who cured himself of hydrophobia with the root of a dog rose. ‘Robin’s Pincushions’ which is the name of the fuzzy, moss-like, pinky red growths are also believed to have magical properties. They are actually caused by the gall wasp’s growing larvae and Culpeper the famous herbalist suggested drying the white worms that grew in the middle of the balls, making it into a powder and then adding it into a drink ‘to kill and drive forth Worms of the Belly’ I have a lot of respect for Culpeper but that is one of his more dubious sounding remedies.
Fresh Rose Leaf Tea
Tastes wonderfully like tea!
- 1 heaped tablespoon of young, green, fresh rose leaves
- 250ml of boiling water
- Put the leaves in a small jug and bruise with a wooden spoon.
- Pour in the water and infuse for 10 minutes.
- Strain into a cup and drink hot, or warm, or iced with a prig of mint or a slice of lemon.
Wild Rose Petal Ice Cream
The very taste of June………..
- 2-3 tablespoons of lemon juice
- 1/2 tablespoon of honey
- 250ml of thick cream
- 6-8 tablespoons of Wild Rose Petal conserve (see below)
- Heat the lemon juice and honey in a small pan and stir while it comes to the boil fast for 3 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- Whip the cream in a bowl, fold in the rose petal conserve and finally the cooled lemon syrup.
- Spoon into a plastic tub and cover with a lid.
- Freeze until firm and serve with a drizzle of a rose petal conserve.
Wild Rose Petal Conserve
Delicious stirred into Ice Cream, whipped cream and plain yoghurt……..
- 1 litre fresh dog rose petals
- 1 litre water
- 1 lemon
- 2 1/2lbs sugar
- Pop the petals in a saucepan with the water ans simmer for 15 minute – make sure you have given them a good shake to remove any insects.
- Pour into a bowl and leave until cold.
- Strain back into a saucepan – reserving the petals and add the lemon juice.
- Then add the sugar – wait until the sugar has dissolved.
- Add the petals again.
- Boil fast for 10 minutes, remove from the heat and put into warm, dry jars.
- Cover with waxed circles.