A rose by any other name...

Rose bushes bursting into bloom mean only one thing on our farm: distilling season is nearly upon us!

Roses are our first big harvest of the year, and through steam distillation we extract their incredibly fragrant floral water (or hydrosol) which we use to make many of our products. All of the petals are harvested by hand into baskets before being weighed to go into the still, and it takes one kilo of rose petals to yield only 300mL of rosewater!

A little bit of history

One of the roses grown on our farm is the Apothecary’s Rose, a species that has been successfully traced back to 7th century Persia where today the rose is still widely embraced for both its healing and culinary properties.

During the time of the Crusades, two tales emerged that outline the rose’s travel out of the warring Persian lands and into Europe: one known as the Tudor Rose, the other as the Rose of Provins.

The Tudor Rose

It is said that English knights returned from the Crusades with the rose as a gift for their king, Henry II.

By the 15th century, the Apothecary’s Rose had become a symbol of the House of Lancaster, while their rival House of York was symbolized by the white Rosa Alba.

The civil war that broke out between the two Houses was cleverly named the War of Roses, and once the fight for power was won, Henry VII created a new emblem of England that still exists today by laying the Rosa Alba upon the Apothecary’s Rose to form the Tudor Rose.

The tudor rose painted onto stained glass

The Rose of Provins

It is also said that, following the Crusades, the flower was brought to the French Castle of Provins by Thibault IV, the Count of Champage.

The town became the European capital of the Apothecary’s Rose, which was subsequently renamed the Rose of Provins.

While these tales may be rooted in oral history, the fact remains that the rose's prevalence in so many historical documents speaks to how valued it was - and still is today - by so many different cultures around the world.

Diagram of the rose of provins

Rosewater today

When roses are steam distilled, a sweet-smelling hydrosol is produced which is rich in anti-inflammatory properties that reduces redness and irritation of the skin. The relaxing aroma can be used to combat anxiety, and the hydrosol efficiently cleanses the skin, removing oil and dirt from clogged pores. Our farm-distilled rosewater is available here.

A few rosewater recipes

  1. Mix one teaspoon of rosewater in a glass of still or sparkling water with a little sugar or honey every morning for six weeks. Within two weeks, you should notice an improvement in your sleeping and digestive patterns.
  2. To rest tired, swollen eyes, soak a cotton pad with rosewater, place pad on closed eyes and leave for 5 minutes.
  3. Use as an overall facial toner to hydrate mature skin, balance emotions and uplift the spirit.

DIY Rosewater

Pick your rose petals in the morning when the dew has dried and before it becomes too hot. Place 6 cups of rose petals into a stainless steel pot with 1 litre of distilled water, bring to a gentle boil, then remove from heat. Let stand 15 minutes. Strain through cheesecloth into a glass jar, cover and store in the fridge. Use within 2 weeks.

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