You can add a floral, feminine, and unmistakably rosy touch to your favorite recipes with just one single ingredient: rose water. This all-natural extract is used daily in Middle Eastern cuisine, but has lost popularity in modern American kitchens. It’s a shame, because this ingredient is easy to find and adds a unique flare to foods both sweet and savory. Not sure how? Here are 7 delicious uses for rose water.
Rose water is essentially the leftover distillate from rose petals and water—that’s all! Think of it as you would vanilla or almond extract, as a concentrated extract that can add a distinctive flavor and aroma to your recipes with just a few drops. It has sweet floral notes and an unmistakably rosy aroma. In other words, it’s perfectly lovely.
Here are some ways to incorporate rose water into your own recipes this season:
1. Add to ice cream or gelato. Just a few drops of rose water can be all it takes to transform cream and sugar into intoxicatingly aromatic and delightful ice cream. Here’s an example of how to do it from allrecipes.com.
2.Add to milk-based desserts (yogurt, milkshakes, pudding, etc.). Once again, rose water and milk go hand-in-hand. The softness of dairy products complements the delicateness of the rose’s floral flavor. Any type of dairy-based (or nondairy) dessert can be enhanced with a few drops of rose water in the preparation. Here’s just one example from NoshOn.It, with their Mango Rose Lassi.
3. Add to cocktails. Yes, rose water is right at home in cocktails, with or without the alcohol. Add a splash into a spritzer drink, a juice-based drink, or pretty much anything with gin. The website Bar None Drinks has a whole page dedicated to rose water cocktails for inspiration.
4. Add to pastries and baked goods. Many Middle Eastern pastries, such as baklava, use rose water to complement the earthy, nutty flavors of pistachio and almond also commonly used. Epicurious.com has a recipe for Almond Baklava that will whet your pastry whistle.
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5. Add to gelatin or agar molds. Have you ever had the classic jelled dessert, Turkish Delight? The characteristic flavor of this classic Middle Eastern treat—one of my personal favorite candies—is rose water. Make your own version in a jelled dessert, or even agar-based jelled mold. Here’s a recipe for a simply gorgeous rose, milk, and honey mold from the blog of S. O Rasoi.
6. Add to jams, jellies, and compotes. All it takes is one splash of rose water in your fruity jams to add a totally new level of complexity. Talk about kicking up your bored toast and jelly routine! In the blog Completely Delicious, a recipe for strawberry and rose water jam will make you want to get cooking in the kitchen stat.
7. Add to savory vegetable- and fruit-based salads. Rose water can liven up savory dishes like salads, just as it can sweet dishes. Perky colorful dishes like carrot slaw, citrus salad, or virtually anything with fruits and nuts in the mix, will be a great complement to rose water. Simply add a splash into your vinaigrette or dressing and whisk away. Here’s an example from NPR.com, with their recipe for citrus salad with rose water.
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Images by Kimberley Stakal