On my last day in India, I had my first taste of rose petal honey, swirled into the yogurt I ate for breakfast as I sat on a balcony watching the Taj Mahal shimmer through a haze of humidity. Back home, I couldn't forget the taste—sensual, sublime, exotic, and familiar all at once, like India. Here's my recipe:
Photography by Marla Aufmuth.
Above: Virtually all roses are safe to eat; just make sure they're organically grown (pesticide free). From a friend's rose garden, I picked a variety, washed and dried them, then placed petals from about six roses in a quart-size canning jar. A half-pound bag of organic Red Rose Petals is $15.95 from Bulk Herb Store.
I poured 1.5 pounds of local honey over the petals.
Above: You can experiment; vary the proportion of petals to honey, depending on how strong you want the infusion to taste.
Above: I allowed the honey to steep for two weeks in a cupboard, turning the mixture every five days (as the petals tended to float to the top). For jars, see 5 Favorites: Canning Jars.
Next, I strained out the petals in a colander, mashing the roses with a wooden spoon to wring out more honey.
Above: I poured the honey back into the jar; I use it on yogurt and scones, or as a condiment for cheese plates. The flavor reminds me of my first taste on a morning that happened to be Lord Krishna's birthday, while pilgrims in saffron and magenta saris were heading into a nearby temple to sing and chant. A flock of green parrots flew by, riding on their song.
N.B.: For more about edible roses, see A Riot in Berkeley.