How to Use Rose Water in the Kitchen

Valentine’s Day is a holiday that symbolism cannot escape, and aside from hearts, roses are the most recognizable purported sign of love and affection associated with February 14th. Sure, you can give a dozen or so, but if you want your gifts to be a little more edible, consider adding some rose water to your cooking.

Rose water can be used to add a heady floral scent to both sweet and salty foods, but it must be used very wisely. We all have one old relative whose home raises questions like, “Is this the soap I should use to wash my hands?” and “is this a medley or an appetizer?” If that’s not the aesthetic you want to embrace on this Victory Day, be sure to add scented floral water with a very light hand. This is especially important for raw foods such as cocktails or meals that do not heat up.

Adding rose water to an existing recipe is pretty straightforward – just add a few drops, but some flavor combinations work better than others. Here are some of our favorite things to make a little more rosy:

  • Cocktails: Just a few drops of rose water will make your cocktail more romantic. Try it with simple gin-based cocktails like martini – Hendrick’s works great as a base alcohol – or use it in place of orange blossom water for a pink Ramos Gin Fizz .
  • Whipped Cream: Rose-scented clouds of whipped cream will be equally appealing on lava chocolate tarts or fresh strawberries. Just add two to three drops to the heavy cream before whipping and cook as usual.
  • Baking: Use rose water like any other extract, or use it in place of vanilla. This works especially well with cakes, cookies, and candy that are flavored with lemon, almond, or pistachio. When baked, the fresh floral aroma of rose water becomes sweeter, jam and slightly fruity.
  • Dark Rich Meat: Pink meat may not seem overly appealing, but rose can make a good balance for hearty lamb, especially in a stew or saffron . You can also add a few teaspoons to any meat stew, especially if the recipe contains citrus fruits, pomegranate, or honey.
  • Fruit Salads: You can add a few drops of rose water to almost any fruit salad, but I think it would be especially good at home in a lovely melange of bloody oranges, grapefruit and tanguelo. Make a simple syrup by mixing half a cup of rose water, half a cup of plain water, and a cup of sugar, sprinkle with peeled and chopped citrus fruits, sprinkle with peeled pistachios and fresh mint.

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