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Rosebuds & Rose Water (c)2012

You may be hoping to receive a delivery this Valentine’s day, a dozen crimson roses surrounded by baby’s breath, perfuming the house or your office cubicle with their floral aroma. Here at la Domestique, I’m looking forward to cooking with roses all week, savoring the heady fragrance of brittle, dried rosebuds in spice blends and adding delicate rose water to fruit salads, pastries, and cocktails. Cooking with preserved rose essence brings spring into the winter pantry, battling the blues we feel during this time of year when fresh produce is difficult to find. Though using roses in the kitchen may seem bizarre, dried rose blossoms and rose water are a pantry staple in the Middle East and Northern India. It’s all about balance, though, and a heavy hand with this ingredient can easily overpower. Dried rosebuds are used in spice blends to balance floral and savory, spicy and calm, bitter and sweet. The musky aroma of dried rosebuds adds depth and intrigue to spice blends used in meaty stews, couscous dishes, and curries. Rose water, milder than orange flower water, is subtle, yet luxurious, in puddings, sorbets, cakes, and cookies.

Look for dried rosebuds and rose water in your local spice shop- you might be surprised at how readily available these ingredients are. According to the reference, Herbs & Spices, dried rosebuds will keep in an airtight container for up to a year, and you can grind them to use in recipes as needed. Store dried rosebuds in a glass jar and enjoy the beauty their pink petals add to your pantry. Rosewater comes in a dark bottle to protect the liquid from light. However, heat does not diminish the fragrance of rosewater, and so it may be employed to flavor simple syrups, baked goods, and hot beverages.

This week at la Domestique, you’ll find creative ideas for cooking with rose water and dried rosebuds during winter. Explore how the rose is used in cuisines across the globe, including Morocco, Tunisia, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, India, and France. Let this exotic ingredient inspire a renewed sense of adventure in your home cooking.

Do you cook with dried rosebuds or rose water? Share your ideas in tips in the comments section. Click Here.