Rose petals are an excellent source of vitamin C, as well as a great source of B vitamins, vitamin K, carotene, calcium, magnesium, and copper.
But before you head outdoors to pick some edible roses, remember two things: You don’t want roses that have been sprayed with chemicals; neither should you eat roses planted near roadways where they may have absorbed chemical fumes.
People around the world enjoy flowers in their food. Asian cuisine, for instance, relies on lilies and chrysanthemums, squash blossoms are common in Italian and Latin cuisines and the French used carnations for Chartreuse, a traditional liqueur. Rose petals and rose hips are popular with home cooks and professional chefs alike. While the petals provide only small amounts of nutrition, they do add benefits for you beyond their actual food value.
How do you eat roses?
A good way to start is salad. Choose open flowers, but not wilted. Rinse, then cut off the white part, near the base of the petal, which is bitter. Then just toss them into a salad. Rose petal sugar is also delightful. In a glass jar, layer fresh rose petals with granulated sugar. Put a lid on the jar and keep it in a cool, dark location for about a week. Remove the rose petals and use the sugar for baking or for sweetening tea.
Rose leaves are best used for a tea that tastes similar to black tea but without the caffeine. Leaves can be harvested at any time of year, but are best before the plant blooms. Pick only a handful or so off each plant or you may jeopardize the rose’s health. Dry the leaves in a dehydrator at 95 degrees F. or in a paper bag. Crumble the leaves into a tea ball and steep for 10 to 15 minutes.
Health and Nutrition
Because petals contain about 95 percent water, their nutritional value is limited and their calorie count is low. However, the petals do contain some vitamin C, though less than that found in rose hips, the fruit of the rose that appears after the flowers drop. Ancient Chinese medicine used roses to treat digestive disorders, the pain from injuries, and menstrual irregularities.
Eating a varied diet full of interesting foods is the best way to ensure that you get plenty of vitamins and minerals. Adding rose petals to your repertoire allows you to explore new cuisines. Middle Eastern cuisine, for instance, uses rose water and rose petals in a variety of dishes.
Cooking with rose petals and eating rose petals can make you feel good. Leon Seltzer, a clinical psychologist writing in “Psychology Today,” explains that the delight of discovery, of being spontaneous and adventuresome, can make you feel good about yourself. Eating rose petals may seem like a trivial activity, but if doing so reminds you to savor your food and your life, it will take on a deeper meaning.
Connections to the Past
In eating, as in life, establishing connections with the past is important to your well-being — witness the feelings that arise when you eat a pie made from your grandmother’s Thanksgiving recipe or the beef chili that you know generations of your Texan relatives have enjoyed since pioneer days. Eating rose petals will transport you to ancient Rome, where roses were added to foods when a celebration of victory occurred.