This morning I filled a garden trug with rose petals; beautiful, deep Bordeaux-red rose petals that smell like blackberry and damsons. As you can imagine, any recipe that begins with: ‘take a walk around the garden at dawn and collect a basket of fragrant rose petals’, is clearly as romantic as it sounds. Their jammy bedfellow is Rhubarb, which can clearly use a little sex appeal. Although it’s luscious red stems are rather beautiful, it is, after all, a vegetable, so if it has any chance of making it to the top of the jam pops, it really needs a beautiful leading lady.
If I had to count the hours I’ve spent perusing garden books, roses would have to be the one thing I obsess over the most. Since we began restoring the gardens at Chateau Montfort, I’ve managed to fill every spare sunny gap with a rose and every bare wall with a climber, so now that Spring has arrived, I clearly have an abundance of petals.
The red rose I used for the jam is happily scrambling up our old barn. When we arrived it was starved of sunlight and a rather sorry specimen, but with some fairly major pruning of the Plane trees behind the walled garden, it’s suddenly had a new lease on life. I’m not sure what its called, but the fragrance is so strong I can smell it from a good 5 meters away.
It doesn’t matter which rose you choose, but you do need to be sure it hasn’t been sprayed. I also recommend cutting off the base of the petal which can be a slightly firmer texture to the rest.
As with all jams, it’s important to let the fruit macerate with the sugar overnight, or for at least 12 hours in advance. If you’re using a copper jam pot this is also essential in order to avoid the fruit acids coming directly in contact with the copper.
I love a touch of the exotic and cardamom adds a little bit of that. If you don’t like it, feel free to omit it, or add a little freshly grated ginger instead.
What is rhubarb and rose petal jam good with?
I love eating this Springtime jam dolloped on riz au lait (rice pudding), or with a little pot of our local sheep’s milk yoghurt for breakfast. It’s also perfect with vanilla-laced whipped cream on a freshly baked scone. I think this has got to be the ultimate ladies afternoon tea, served with a pot of Earl Grey tea in the garden.
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