Rose water and oil have several uses when it comes to skin and hair care, and act as a base for when making fragrances. They also have certain health benefits and are used for medicinal purposes. But you may be surprised to learn that rose water is used in cooking, especially in Middle Eastern cuisine.
It is easy to make your own rose water or oil at home with just three ingredients—rose petals, water, and ice. Once the rose water is made, there is a layer on top that is the rose oil. You also can make herb extracts using this technique. Rose water, herb water, and oils are easy to make and just take a bit of time and patience. You will need a lot of ice for this project, so plan ahead.
- Clean rose petals (grown without pesticides)
Place a heavy glass ramekin in a deep stockpot. Fill the ramekin 3/4 full with water to weigh it down.
Place rose petals around the exterior of the ramekin in the bottom of the pot and cover with water halfway up the side of the ramekin.
Place a shallow soup bowl on top of the ramekin. Bring the water and rose petals to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer.
Place a stainless steel bowl on top of the stockpot. It should be large enough to seal the pot, but shallow enough so that its bottom is not touching the soup bowl. Fill the top bowl with ice.
Simmer the mixture 3 to 4 hours, depending on the amount. As the mixture boils, the heat rises and hits the cold bowl, causing it to condense and drip down into the inner bowl. Replace ice as needed as it melts.
When done, the shallow soup bowl will contain the rose water. It will have a layer of rose oil on top that is the essential oil or extract. The oil may be separated from the water.
Rose Water in Cooking
Rose water is a popular Middle Eastern cooking ingredient and can be found in candy, like Turkish Delight, as well as baklava, yogurts, custards, lemonade, tea, cakes, cookies, and more. You will also find it in recipes for rice pudding; just 2 tablespoons of rose water are enough to transform an ordinary rice pudding into something really special. A Sephardic recipe for Purim cookies, rose water pistachio hamantaschen, combines two Persian Jewish favorites—rose water and pistachios.
Is Rose Oil Used in Cooking?
In general, purchased rose oil is not considered food-grade safe. You don't know if it was processed with chemicals, metal contaminants, or other allergens. Typically, rose oil is used for perfumes and beauty products. If you created the rose oil yourself, then it should be safe to consume.