Rose Cordial: The Taste of Early Summer

Rose is one of my all-time favourite plant allies and in my personal opinion there is no pain that cannot be soothed with its gentle medicine. Rose has long been associated with the heart, a symbol of love and desire in many forms. Its sweet scent can evoke the sheltering arms of a caring mother or the beating heart of an impassioned lover. Rose can offer comfort and the softening of fear. Rose can teach us how to honour our emotional boundaries while also opening up our hearts, and it can awaken a respect for the primacy of our bodies and the earthly desires contained within them. I mist my face with rose water when tensions run high, massage my skin with rose oil when I want to cool inflammation, sip rose tea when I want to quiet my mind and dab rose perfume at the hollow of my throat before I wrap myself in my husband’s arms each and every night. Rose is always the first one I reach for and my love for her is great.

Here in the Pemberton Valley where I live the wild roses come into bloom in late May. If you go for a walk or a bike ride along the meadows on a warm day the smell of these five-petalled blossoms fills the air. Its season is short, but it is magical and it begs you to slow down and take in its gifts. During wild rose season I aim to get out every day so that I can spend time sitting with rose. I love to see the way the bees dance around the shrubby bushes that line every path and roadside, and I marvel at the white crab spiders who hide in waiting within the cool embrace of these delicate flowers. I gather as many rose petals as I am able to, being sure to leave most of the flowers behind to nourish the pollinators. Luckily rose is abundant in her offerings and so there is always enough. When picking wild rose be sure to take the petals only (and if you can try to leave behind one petal on each flower so the bees still come to visit). Do not pluck the whole flower or there will be no autumn rose hips. If you harvest wisely your local wild rose bushes will flourish under your attention.

The roses I gather will find their way into bath salts, infused oils, honey’s, syrups, teas, elixirs, and cordials. As I said before, everything is better with rose. You can literally add it to anything. While I write this I am sipping a tea made with fresh lemon balm, wild rose and ginger mint gathered from my own back yard. Baskets of rose petals are drying on every surface in my house. Sitting on my counter is a jar of rose glycerite, a raspberry rose oxymel, and a fresh batch of rose cordial. Rose cordial is my favourite early summer drink and that is the recipe I want to share with you today. To make it you need to be able to gather 3-4 cups of wild rose petals. If you cannot access fresh rose petals you can substitute with dried flowers- but make sure they are medicinal or food grade. Buy them from a reputable herb shop, not the potpourri section of your local craft store! Other than that all you need is hot water, lemons and honey. Rose cordial is super fun to make, delicious to drink and makes a lovely gift for summer garden parties as it turns a gorgeous pink color. See my recipe below and if you want to learn more about rose as a summer medicine check out my Summer Wisdom Online Workshop – it includes four more rose inspired recipes.

Rose Cordial Recipe

Gather your rose petals mid-morning, a time when the morning dew has begun to dry and the petals are opening up. Roses gathered at this time are more fragrant than roses gathered in the heat of the day. Wild roses are preferable as cultivated roses are often sprayed with fungicides, but if you have unsprayed roses growing in your garden you may use those. This recipe makes a one liter batch of rose cordial, you can cut the measurements in half to make a smaller amount if you desire.

Add your rose petals to a one liter Mason jar (or another tempered glass vessel). Add the lemon zest and juice along with the honey. Fill the jar with freshly boiled water, stir well and cover to preserve the volatile oils that will give your cordial aroma and taste. Allow your cordial to steep at room temperature overnight and strain off in the morning. If you were able to gather darker pink roses your cordial will have taken on their colour once it is done. If you like you can add a splash or food grade rose water or rose hydrosol. Pour your finished cordial into a clean bottle, label, and store in the fridge. It will keep for a week or so – but you will likely drink it up well before then.

Rose cordial can be added to mineral water for a refreshing drink on a hot day or you can blend it in your favourite cocktail mixes. If you want to make popsicles with it simply pour the cordial undiluted into your popsicle molds and freeze.

I hope that you make yourself a batch of this early summer treat and if you want more rose medicine check out my Summer Wisdom Online Workshop. It is just $29 CAD and includes a number of recipes featuring rose along with 90 minutes worth of video presentation, two short yoga flows, a guided meditation, supportive handouts and more.