It was on a trip to Turkey as a young girl that I first tasted rose petal jam. The jar captivated me: it bore a romantic, old-fashioned label showing a flopping damask rose and contained a clear pink, syrupy jam, dotted with translucent petals. I have returned to Turkey frequently since then and every time I look forward to a breakfast of thick yoghurt into which I stir a generous dollop of the scented, runny jam. Here at home I love it on toasted white bread or muffins and I use it as a topping for creamy puddings and tarts.
It is hard to believe that roses can have such a definite taste. They are not sickly scented; instead they have real flavour and a unique texture, too. It is important to use petals from the most scented roses you can find — old-fashioned varieties are usually best. Don’t expect this to be a really set jam; it is more like a thick syrup, the same consistency as runny honey.
Wash 4-5 jam jars, arrange on a large baking sheet and put into a low oven to dry. Put the water into a fairly large saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the rose petals, cover the pan and simmer for about half an hour. Then strain the liquid through a sieve into another large saucepan, pressing the rose petals to extract all the liquid. Reserve the rose petals. Strain the lemon juice into the liquid, then add the sugar and stir over a low heat to dissolve. Boil until the syrup reaches 105°C/220°F on a sugar thermometer. Stir in the rose petals and remove from the heat. Stir thoroughly and leave for about 5 minutes before putting into the heated jam jars. Cover immediately with waxed paper discs and screwtop lids.
© 1997 Josceline Dimbleby. All rights reserved.