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Rose water is one of those ultra-healthy secret beauty potions that most women, previously including myself, are willing to pay top dollar for. And for good reason, too. Rose water is known for calming rosacea and acne, hydrating and moisturizing skin, balancing the skin’s pH levels, preventing puffy eyes, calming burns, acting as a natural mouthwash alternative, and the list of beauty benefits goes on and on. What most people don’t realize, though, is that rose water is also a great addition to desserts and cocktails. In fact, Kyle and I regularly patronized this amazing Neapolitan pizza place in Belfast, Maine called Meanwhile in Belfast, and they mixed up the most delicious rose margaritas I could’ve ever imagined. Naturally, I wanted to recreate it, so I started researching how to make rose water at home.
According to this article from WikiHow, the easiest way to make rose water at home is by infusing rose essential oil into distilled water, adding in a few tablespoons of vodka, and letting it sit for a few minutes. I couldn’t find any pure rose essential oil for under $50 on Amazon (I did find 100% pure rose essential oil from France on sale, though, which fits the bill and would work perfectly if you’re willing to pay its hefty price tag), so I decided to try to make rose water at home with fresh petals. Here’s how you do it step-by-step:
How to Make Your Own Rose Water
Pick up a small bouquet of fresh fragrant roses. Although it’s not absolutely necessary, try to use an organic, pesticide-free, and edible type of rose, like any of the following species: Rosa Damascena (also known as the Damask rose), Rosa Centifolia (also known as the Provence rose, cabbage rose, or Rose de Mai), and Rosa Gallica (also known as the Gallic rose, French rose, or rose of Provins). If you’re just dead set on picking up a regular bouquet at Publix, don’t worry– just rinse the flowers extra well… and add in a little extra vodka (more on liquor in a minute).
This next part may tug on your heartstrings a little bit, but the end result will be worth it, I promise. Pull the petals off 2-3 roses. You’ll need enough to fill one cup, and the number of flowers needed depends on the size of your rose petals. Also, be sure to use only one type of rose, since each species has its own distinct smell. Mixing the petals of different roses can mess with the overall fragrance of the rose water.
Transfer the petals into a sauce pan and pour approximately two cups of water on top of them. Feel free to add more or less, but make sure that the water doesn’t completely drown the petals. Too much water will make your rose water less fragrant.
Add in 1-2 teaspoons of vodka. I used Deep Eddy, but any kind will do. The vodka helps to preserve the rosewater and makes it last longer in the fridge. Vodka also has an astringent nature, so it helps kill bacteria, as well.
Cover the saucepan with a lid and let the rose water heat on low for about 20 minutes. Keep in mind that using too much heat will ruin the color (and potentially other beneficial properties, too) of your rose water, so try to prevent it from even simmering.
After about 20 minutes, you’ll notice that the petals have become pale and a bit wilted. At that time, transfer the rose water into a mason jar or carafe (I used this one from Target) by using a strainer to catch the petals. Keep in mind that the jar will need to be big enough to hold about two cups of water, and you may also want to use a funnel to avoid any potential spills. My two biggest regrets? Not using a funnel and opting for too small of a strainer. Things got messy, but at least the mess was fragrant.
You’ll notice that the homemade rose water will take on the color of its petals. Due to the settings on my DSLR, mine looks a bit darker than it actually was. My rose water actually had much more of a subtle yellowish pink tint to it, but the coloring will vary depending on the type/color of roses you used.
Once the rose water is safely in its jar, store it in the fridge. Any non-vodka rose water will last about a week. If you added vodka as suggested, it can last up to two weeks. Also, WikiHow recommends filling an even smaller bottle with some of the rosewater. Their reasoning? A smaller bottle will be easier to handle than a large mason jar. When you run out of rose water, simply refill it with more rose water from the bigger jar.
If you’re curious what rose water is supposed to taste like, I found the taste to be almost indescribable. I’m going to try anyways, though. It’s refreshing yet floral– so yes, it tastes like you’re drinking a flower, which isn’t something my palette is accustomed to. As abnormal as it may be to anyone in the United States, according to Serious Eats, France regularly flavors macarons, religieuses, éclairs, sorbets, madeleines, and a variety of other delicious goodies with rose water. Rose water is also used in rice puddings and lassis in India, and, while not in liquid form, dried rose petals are common in English teas.
If tried this DIY rose water recipe at home, how did it go? Did you enjoy the taste and the beauty benefits as much as you thought you would? If you successfully made it but you’re not exactly sure how to use it yet, here is a great article from Elle! It talks about some cool new ways to use rose water. Also, be sure to check out the rose margarita recipe I mentioned earlier. It’s pretty darn delicious and perfect for spring!