Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Venus Rosewater Revival ...




For some reason Creedence Clearwater Revival has been in my mind - for the title of this post … but I promise it is all about Rosewater.

Ruby Red Rosewater


As far back as  roses were treasured for their decorative beauty as well as their healing properties – rose petals, rose water and/or rose oil were used to fragrance rooms, floors, and flavour some foods.



Although fermented drinks had been known for thousands of years, the process of distillation was only discovered in the first century AD … extracting the pure liquid essence – as in rosewater.


Lady Elizabeth as a Princess
in about 1546
Elizabeth I as you would imagine loved her perfume – anything with a pretty fragrance would take away some of the ‘stench of life’ in the Middle Ages.


Recently a 400 year old perfume recipe was found tucked away in the library of the Royal Horticultural Society.
 


“Take eight grains of musk and put in rose-water eight spoonfuls, three spoonfuls of Damask-water, and a quarter of an ounce of sugar.  Boil for five hours and strain it.”


A choice of fragrances
The Historic Royal Palaces asked the famous French perfumerie Jean Patou to recreate an eau de toilette based on this recipe that harked back to the days when perfumes first arrived in England from the Middle East.


I wrote fairly comprehensively on plant perfumes through the ages in one of my first posts !! … 23 May 2009 … where more basic historical details can be found.  I note I didn’t include Bulgaria or the Ottoman Empire in the post … my knowledge is obviously broadening as the years go by.


The rosewater flavoured dessert is just by the
grabbing hand?!


Rosewater was common as a flavouring … in Tudor times … there were two favoured varieties … “the red rose water pure, without any other thing mingled, is most commended for wholesomeness, but the damask rose water is sweetest of smell.”







Raspberry, pistachio and rosewater
meringue bark (shards)
The Queen’s Jubilee 2012 picnic dessert was a Strawberry compote, meringue, cream, flavoured with elder-flower cordial and rosewater.


Other recipes can be flavoured with rosewater - Gooseberry Fool, Marchpane Tart, a blancmange style dish: jelly with ground almonds which was flavoured with rosewater …


… or if we go back nearly 1,300 years we could try the savoury-with-fruit dish called ‘Judhaab

This favourite dish of medieval Baghdad consisted of a sweet pudding which was set at the bottom of a tannuuroven to catch the juices of roasting meat, which would be served with the pudding. 

Here we have a recipe from the collection of Caliph al-Wathiq (842–847).

1 chicken
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons rosewater
ground saffron
1 pound dried apricots
2 fresh lavashes, Mexican flour tortillas or other flatbreads, 12" in diameter
½ cup sugar

Wash chicken and pat dry. Mix 2 tablespoons rosewater with pinch of saffron and rub on chicken, inside and out. Set chicken on high rack in 350-degree oven. Put apricots in small saucepan, add water to cover apricots by ½ inch and stew until softened. Place one lavash in baking pan. Arrange stewed apricots on top, sprinkle with sugar and ¾ cup rosewater in which pinch of saffron has been dissolved, then cover with remaining lavash. When juices begin running from chicken, set baking pan under it to catch juices. 
When chicken is done, serve on apricot pudding. Serves four.

  
Conquest of Baghdad by the
Mongols 1258

The deliciously fragrant rosewater can be used in so many ways – and whether the Wimbledon Ladies’ champions use a rose perfume of the purest form, or like most of us a delicate atomised spray …




… many of us will try new flavours as our tastes change and we try new foods with an eclectic range of flavours, mixing savoury and sweet …
Roses, roses, roses ....


… but oh how nice it would be to be served rosewater to wash our hands in before, and after our meal … the pure luxury … not quite a Venus Rosewater Revival … but the title fits my bill!




Daily Telegraph article on Petals of the Valley – the only British producer of pure Rosewater from Wales!

Petals of the Valley … their website … with recipes and tips for use of their rose oil rich, fragrant rosewater ... 

Cooking with the Caliphs – with the Judhaab recipe …

Previous Post:  Wimbledon Tennis Venus Rosewater Dish

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

49 comments:

A Heron's View said...

My Mother was a champion at making victorian sponge cakes and my Father would occasionally top them off with a rosewater icing
that was thin, quite brittle and deliciously scrumptious - such a pity that the recipe was never passed to me.

Elephant's Child said...

Rosewater is added to quite a lot of middle-eastern dishes (including savoury ones). I like it, but a careful hand is needed.
And how I love the thought of washing my hands in rosewater.

Chatty Crone said...

I have seen Rose water somewhere - is in in gourmet food shops or health food stores? Interesting. I do know the middle ages people didn't or couldn't bathe too much so I bet that did help a lot! sandie

troutbirder said...

I do love my roses. And rose water. Why not...:)

Jo-Anne's Ramblings said...

I think this was a really interesting read and I thank you for it

Joanne said...

The sponge cake looks delicious. As for rosewater, this is all new to me. I am not a big perfume person. I admit I have a bad nose and when folks say "smell this" I pretend to sniff. Most times - nothing. (I assume I don't stink - yikes). Anyway, just the name Venus Rosewater says it all - it sounds like a beautiful bouquet, a bountiful breath. Aaahhh. Perhaps I can sense a whiff. Your writing brings it alive. Thanks

Maria said...

When I was little, I used to collect rose petals, I'd soak them in water for days in old aspirin bottles. I can still smell their sweet scent, and remember my mum chuckling to herself at my efforts.

Pamela Wright said...

Great post Hilary. It's really taken me back to a day in Saudi Arabia when we visited a rose farm and distillery - the smell was incredible. The equipment in the shed for distilling the rose oil looked like it had been there for hundreds of years and was really interesting. Whilst there I bought a small bottle of the perfume they were producing, and I still have it, in a little purple velvet box. I just love smelling it and being taken back to that moment.

Trisha F said...

Gosh, I'm glad I don't live in the middle ages with all that stench. ;)

Liz A. said...

It never occurred to me that some of this stuff might be edible.

Anabel Marsh said...

Creedance Clearwater Revival! Now I have an earworm,...

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Mel – Victoria sponges are so delicious – what an interesting thought … that rosewater icing, thin, brittle yet tasting scrumptiously delicious – I agree … sorry you don’t have the recipe (pity!) …

@ EC - I know, like you, I love a little rosewater here and there as those are the sorts of dishes I enjoy having. Oh the luxury or rosewater to wash in …

@ Sandie – I think here you’d find rosewater in the essence section of the herb and spice area … or as you mention in the gourmet shops. Keeping fresh and smelling healthy until recently wasn’t easy or probably thought about …

@ TB – that’s good … maybe you’ll try making some rosewater?

@ Jo-Anne – thanks so much … and I’m glad you enjoyed it …

@ Joanne – I hope you mean the compote in the picnic basket … but certainly rosewater could be an inclusion in a sponge cake. Oh – how interesting that smell isn’t easy for you … and you need to ‘fake it’ – I too assume you don’t smell as your friends haven’t commented, Ray would tell you, I presume! Oh – thanks re believing that you can smell the roses via my writing – lovely of you.

@ Maria – oh gorgeous thought … no wonder your mother happily chuckled at your efforts – wonderful memories.

@ Pam – I forget you lived in the Middle East for a while. Fascinating to read you were able to go round a distillery and be absorbed mentally into the processing of rose petals for rose oil, or rose water. How lovely you’ve still got your presentation purchased pack … purple velvet box … I’m sure a little opening of the phial would take you back … that fragrance, those sheds with their distillation equipment …

@ Trisha – I’m afraid the stench up until running water came into being and people realised that cleanliness meant better health … was really yuggie!

@ Liz – we learn so much through life don’t we … glad you’ve realised a great many plants have edible parts …

@ Anabel – sorry about that … I guess the word Revival tied the two together …

Cheers to you all – am glad you’ve mostly had happy memories reading this … Hilary

Mike@Bit About Britain said...

Absolutely fascinating! As usual, Hilary. Wouldn't it be intriguing to experience the scents used by the great and the good of the past. But not for too long. I do know that rose petals are mixed in with the spices to flavour a traditional tagine. And it's not a bad ear-worm...

Sue Bursztynski said...

Ooh, you have me drooling! I love a rose water lassi, myself, but it is definitely something to use for sweets in general. I have some in my pantry.

So, what happened when Jean Patou recreated that recipe?

Shammickite said...

ahh.... rose flavoured Turkish Delight, delicious!

Jo said...

I remember using rosewater many years ago but have no idea what for. Interesting that it has been around for so long. Can you imagine being transported to the Elizabethan court with the stench which would make a modern person ill I imagine.

These days perfumes are a no no in most places with lots of people being allergic. I wonder if rosewater would be considered unacceptable.

bazza said...

So, the Caliph al-Wathiq knew about Mexican flour tortillas; very prescient of him!
CLICK HERE for Bazza’s guileless Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Mike - it would be interesting to spend one day as an Elizabethan, or a Tudor, or Victorian ... we'd be turning our noses up pretty quickly I suspect - and thus not stay around in that era too long ... before returning to our water on tap century. I know I've had rose water flavoured dishes ... but I'm not sure I've seen them added in as petals to tagine, as you mention - though ... it is so delicious.

Earworms can be a bind ... but this one is probably somewhat different - especially if we have a silver-gilt salver near to hand - full of delicious goodies!

@ Sue - I've never been to India or the east .. and thus haven't had the opportunity to try a Lassi - now I rather want to try one. Well I'm glad this post reminded you about the delights of rose water.

Also I hadn't checked what happened to the Jean Patou perfume recipe - but now I have ... and so another post coming up!! Fascinating man and history ...

@ Shammickite - yes, of course, I meant to put that in ... it'll almost certainly be in the next post - which is food oriented! Quite delicious ... love Turkish delight - on occasions ...

@ Jo - I think rose water was something I didn't need to use - i.e. that's what I decided and thus never bought any or used it.

Oh to go back in time would not be so much fun - I agree with you there ... some eau de parfums are revolting ... and some perfumes just don't sit well on the body they are sprayed upon ... hadn't thought about the allergy aspect ...

@ Bazza - oh yes the Caliph al-Wathiq ... was very forward thinking! But the book looks totally enticing ... and I would love to own it ...

Cheers to you all - and thanks for the interesting comments - Hilary

Rhodesia said...

Rose water used to be on all the shelves in the supermarkets in Rhodesian days and I seem to remember it in South Africa as well. I have never seen it here, and I do't remember seeing it in the UK either but perhaps I was not looking for it!!
Interesting post. Have a good weekend Diane

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

I feel like such a dummy. I love the scent of roses, so I'd probably like the smell of rosewater, too, but I didn't know it was used in cooking. I'll have to check it out and expand my palate a bit. (Better my palate than my waist!)

Cheers!

Murees Dupé said...

I like the taste of rosewater, but it is very strong, so it should be used sparingly. I haven't seen the ruby red kind yet. We only use the clear one. You can add a few drops if you make a sugar syrup to sweeten drinks, or when you add it to sweet treats. Like Turkish delight.

Wishing you well, Hilary.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Diane - I've seen rose water around, but considered it (for anything I cooked) an unnecessary extra, as I wouldn't use it ... and am sure I saw it in South Africa, definitely here in the UK, but have only ever had the perfume variety.

@ Susan - it is a delightful fragrance and just adds that little extra to Middle Eastern - Persian - Oriental dishes ... perhaps find a restaurant that uses it? It definitely underlines the fragrance ...

@ Murees - It is an essence, so needs to be treated with restraint - can agree with you there, and used sparingly. I agree it is usually very light pink or clear. Turkish delight and sweet treats or desserts are the norm .. though I'm always a savoury fan ...

Thanks everyone - it's good to know many of you will be looking out for rosewater or dishes with rosewater in in future ... cheers Hilary

Elsie Amata said...

I would imagine that life in the Middle Ages would be pretty stinky so while I'm not a fan of flowery scents, I think back then I'd make an exception. Anything to wash away that stench, huh? :)

Elsie

Deborah Weber said...

Another delightful post Hilary catering to my love of roses. I always have rosewater on hand - not simply because I'm a natural perfumer, but because it's so lovely to add to everything. A bit in bathwater, a bit in drinking water, a bit in food, a bit to freshen sinks and drains, a bit in a mister bottle to dispense whenever whim demands.

I've long meant to head back through all your archives - it's like a whisper of a fabulous library calling. Just as it took you years to write, it will undoubtedly take me years to read, but now you've headed me into a starting place. Love it!

Silvia Villalobos said...

Great post, Hilary. Many uses for the rose, it seems, now and more so in the past. On my recent trip to Europe, I ate a zucchini flower for the first time. Didn't know that was a possibility, but a family member picked it up from her garden and added it to the omelet. Delicious.
One learns at every step, and I always learn something new and delightful when I visit your blog.

Suzanne Furness said...

Rose is one of my favourite scents, planning to plant some climbing ones in the garden. I have used rosewater years ago when I made homemade face masks ... they smelt wonderful.

Out on the prairie said...

I have had rose hips in jelly and tea but not any rosewater

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Elsie - I think life pre running water, or the knowledge that keeping clean was healthy and the best option would be fairly pongy! I'd definitely have flowers around.

@ Deborah - yes more roses -I can imagine you always have rosewater nearby... fascinating the uses you've found for it - love some of those ideas.

Oh gosh - thank you so much ... there is a lot here on the blog - finding a subject is always one of my problems - I seem to be very scatty when it comes to tagging posts ... but I'm delighted you'll enjoy looking through some of the articles - lovely to know that's the way you think: thank you!

@ Silvia - thank you ... as Deborah has added to the mix of ideas that roses can be used for ... lot of them. Oh yes - the zucchini flower ... they are now very popular in restaurants and pubs, probably at home too. Omelettes with fresh herbs from the garden - delicious. Delighted you enjoy visiting ...

@ Suzanne - your new roses clambering in the garden will be so wonderful to see and smell. What a lovely fragrant idea - making rosewater face masks ... I bet they smelt wonderful ... the thought of them - bliss!

@ Steve - rose-hip jelly is so good isn't it, and some teas do have hints of rose ... the trusted rosewater has been around a while ... perhaps your daughters might enjoy some?

Thanks so much for coming by - have lovely weekends - cheers Hilary

Nick Wilford said...

I can see how people would want to get as many sweet smells as they can get in Elizabethan times. Chicken juice and apricot pudding doesn't sound like an obvious combination, but I'd give it a go!

Robert Bennett said...

Thank you so much for the recipe! With that said though, for some reason it never occurred to me, despite the number of times I've heard of rosewater, that rosewater was actually a thing. Weird to admit, but for some reason it always just existed in fiction in my mind.

Kim Blades said...

Hi Hilary. Finally got to this fascinating post via your Wimbledon Rose bowl one. I love the look and of the pistachio and raspberry merinque. When I used to grown lots of rose trees years ago, I used to make my own rosewater and rose oil but now I only have a few trees and they haven't been doing too well lately. If they pick up, I'll try making them again.
Kim x

Betsy Brock said...

I remember my grandmother loving rose water! You just don't hear of it too much any longer! But we do still love things that freshen the stenches of life, don't we! haha.

Ann Bennett said...

I can't believe I almost missed post. I grow roses galore. The possibilities are mind boggling to me. Using rosewater as a flavoring agent is something I did not know. wow wow wow.

Jz said...

You're doing a great job at making me wish I liked the smell of roses!
It's all very interesting stuff, even if my nose does crinkle a little as I read. ;-)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Nick - yes pomanders and sweet smelling potions must have helped, but I suspect not wiped out all the 'stench' that would have abounded during the early centuries ... the Judhaab sounded rather good and one I wouldn't mind trying .. glad you'll join me!

@ Robert - pleasure re the recipe! Well I'm glad you now know that rosewater is actually made and sold ... strange perhaps, but true ...

@ Kim - the 'bark' meringue does look good doesn't it. I've never made rosewater though we had lots of roses in one of our gardens - clever that you made rosewater and rose oil in the past. I hope your roses pick themselves up - they are wonderful plants ...

@ Betsy - I think my grandmother probably was in to lavender ... I don't remember rose water being around, but roses yes, though not made use of, other than in vases in the house. Definitely need things to take the 'nastie smellies' of humanity away ... that I agree with ...

@ Ann - well that's great to see that you might be making some use of your rose petals now ... bet that will be fun - and I'm sure your ancestors, whom you're researching, would have used their roses.

@ Jz - oh sorry that you don't like the scent of roses - but delighted you read the post, even with a crinkling nose!

Cheers to you all - thanks so much for visiting and commenting ... Hilary

Marja said...

Rosewater in a dish That's a surprise. Love perfume and the smell of roses. We have in the botanical garden some really strong smelling roses They would be excellent for perfume.

Blogoratti said...

Rosewater sounds so heavenly, like a fountain or waterfall. The scent of roses alone is enough to awaken one's soul. Wonderful and detailed post, you obviously have gained a lot of knowledge on rosewater, and its great of you to share. Warm greetings dear friend!

Madeleine Sara said...

Hi Hilary, My mother loved glycerin and rosewater. :) x

cleemckenzie said...

I love to cook middle eastern dishes, and rose water is a frequent ingredient. And just last night we finished off our dinner with a delightful chocolate mixed with rose petals. I hadn't tried that before, but it was interesting.

Those rose fragrances are wonderful, so I have to grow them just to experience that scent each summer.

Sandra Cox said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sandra Cox said...

Loved this post, Hilary.
So much fun information. I want some of that bark! Doesn't it look delicious?
For some reason I never expected sugar to be in a perfume recipe.
Have a good one.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I've never been a fan rose anything when it comes to perfumes, lotions or anything else of that scent. But now I wonder what it tastes like to eat. You always give me something to think about.

Emily Bloomquist said...

Hi Hilary,
I imagine that the smell in the pre-regular bath times must have gotten fairly ripe. Strong rose scents would be preferred. I'm not so sure about the apricot pudding with the chicken but it's worth a try. Thanks for a fun read. -Emily

Mark Noce said...

It's amazing just how many rose petals it takes to make rosewater. It kind of boggles the mind:)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Marja – I’d imagine the Botanical Gardens will have wonderful roses – and I too love the fragrances …

@ Blogoratti – wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a rosewater fountain …fragrance to awaken the soul – as you mention. Yes, I’ve been looking around to see what interesting snippets I can find about rosewater …

@ Madeleine – my mother too loved some fresh true perfume … I think the glycerine sets the essence …

@ Lee – oh that’s great to know – we have something else in common – middle-eastern dishes. Oh what a delicious sounding chocolate … having rose petals in it – I’ve had the rose creams with crystallised rose petals … I will now be keeping my eyes open for your variety! I agree I love the fragrance of roses at this time of year as I pass by various gardens …

@ Sandra – that’s wonderful to read you enjoyed the post – and yes I’ll join you with the meringue bark – it does look amazing.
It’s a 400 year old recipe – so perhaps it was a form of thickening the perfume a little …… sticky or not – I don’t know!

@ Susan – it’s interesting how we all like different things – at least we can be somewhat unique in our lives. I’ve had crystallised rose petals at times in my life – though rose petals in this form … not so sure – but I’d happily eat them.

@ Emily – early days and the acceptance of those natural odours that would abound I suppose they were used to them … but a bath of rose scented water would be just wondrous. I love eating sweet with savoury – so this sounds rather delicious to me … glad you enjoyed the read …

@ Mark – yes lots of rose petals all collected before the heat of the day … so much boggles the mind, when we get to think about it – I’m always staggered at the way things, that we enjoy, come about …

Cheers to you all – thanks for visiting and participating in the post … Hilary

Lynn said...

I have something like rosewater in a Crabtree & Evelyn concoction (I love the bottle.) It's fascinating to learn more about it.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Lynn - rosewater is certainly a favourite in creams and lotions - so glad you love the bottle - Crabtree and Evelyn are a great brand ... thanks for visiting - cheers Hilary

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I remember the rosewater aroma (my grandmother comes to mind when I think of it...sweet and delicate), but I don't believe I've ever eaten anything flavored with it. So interesting!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Elizabeth - that's good this has brought back memories of your grandmother with her rosewater fragrance ... it's so fascinating to find out what we can eat ... but also embrace some flavourings from the Middle Ages, or even back to Roman times ... I'm happy you found it interesting.

Have a good weekend - cheers Hilary