It's funny how tastes change over time. There was a time when I loved hotdogs and Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles and the smell of rain hitting asphalt (petrichor to the extreme). Then there are the things that used to seem absolutely disgusting.
I always hated rose water. My mother would put it in rice pudding, and I'd glare at her suspiciously. It smelled funny, it tasted funny. It was just... gross.
But then, a couple of years ago, I started noticing the smell of roses again. I smelled it in cleaning products, tea, lotions and shampoos. It didn't smell bad anymore. In fact, it smelled quite good.
My roommate started rolling cigarettes with dried rose petals instead of tobacco (an attempt to wean herself off smoking), and that smelled good too. Then I had a cup of tea made out of rose hips, and at last it dawned on me: my tastes had changed.
Now I have some roses growing right next to my front porch. They've been blooming for the last few days. Big, red, full blooms. I've never thought roses were particularly pretty, but can certainly appreciate their practicality (for things like rose water and tea).
So today, practically on a whim, I decided to try making my own rose water.
First I asked my roommate about it, then did a tiny bit of research. It's pretty simple, and mostly intuitive. Basically, you need to cook rose petals in water. You want the flavors to mingle.
But flower petals are delicate things. If you cook it at too high a temperature, the roses will disintegrate and the water will taste bitter. So low and slow is probably the best bet.
It seems like the perfect job for my trusty slow cooker!
Enough rose petals to fill your slow-cooker ¾ full. (Make sure the roses haven't been treated with pesticides)
Enough water to cover rose petals
Remove petals from roses, and wash them really well to remove any dirt and insects (turns out mine had a bit of an earwig problem). A really effective way to do this is to wash the roses like you would lettuce: put the petals in a big bowl, fill the bowl with water, and swish the petals around so any grit falls to the bottom of the bowl. But don't worry about digging out the salad spinner. The petals are going to get wet anyway.
Put the petals in your slow cooker, and add just enough water to cover. This will be hard to gauge because the petals will float, but do your best. Put the lid on your slow cooker, and set it on high. Cook the petals until they've completely lost their color. Mine took about 2 hours. If you set the cooker on low, it'll probably take 3-4 hrs.
You can also make this on the stove top. Just make sure the pot is non-reactive, and that the water never quite reaches a boil. And keep an eye on it.
Strain the petals out of the water (you'll want to do it twice actually. Once through a colander, and once through something fine enough to catch any seeds), and pour the water into a sterilized jar (I used some old glass syrup bottles that I'd boiled for a few minutes beforehand). Refrigerate this.