Need to eat some roses.
October 13, 2012 11:39 AM   Subscribe

Best way to buy or otherwise acquire edible (not treated with any kind of sprays, basically) rose petals in Chicago. Nope, can't grow roses myself (condo with no yard) and can't ask someone to grow them for me. Is this even going to be possible?

The three grocery stores we've tried on Devon don't have rosebuds or rose petals (we've got plenty of rose water, thanks. We're looking for the actual petals). Maybe we're just unlucky?
posted by crush-onastick to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Looks like you can mail-order organic, edible roses in bulk from a place called Flower Explosion. I haven't got any local ideas for you, though.
posted by Orinda at 11:56 AM on October 13, 2012

I'd go to a farmer's market and talk to the vendors. They can tell you whether or not they use pesticides on their flowers, and if they are ok to eat.

Might be too late to do that this year, though.
posted by bunderful at 11:56 AM on October 13, 2012

your local middle eastern or turkish store might have some, but if not- check out my favorite ethnic store in the entire world- kalustyan's- if you're ever in Manhattan, you have to go there. food from all over the world- specialty ingredients from countries everywhere omg HEAVEN (ok you don't need all this detail but I really miss this place, I stop by whenever in NY). oh yea, the point is that apparently you can order from them on-line.

They have : Rose Petals(X-Large, Whole), Fresh Dried (you can use this as search term)

and other selections- I won't search for it all but you can find rose buds, candied rose petals, rose water, various tea blends with rose in it, possibly other stuff. OMG IT'S AMAZING

no I have no commercial connection except that of enthusiastic customer :)
posted by saraindc at 11:57 AM on October 13, 2012

I agree with bunderful about talking to folks at your local farmers' market. Roses are out of season now, but there's a decent enough chance that one of the farmers has a corner of their greenhouse where they play around with rosebushes or the like and could put something together for you.

Have you tried asking around in your various social networks (both IRL and online)? Maybe someone in your neighborhood grows roses or has a country house or knows a florist?
posted by Sara C. at 12:16 PM on October 13, 2012

Try places that sell supplies to hobbyist wine makers - rose petal wine is a thing.
posted by ersatzkat at 12:33 PM on October 13, 2012

The Indian stores around here carry dried rosebuds for ... something edible.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:38 PM on October 13, 2012

You want fresh, yeah? Have you checked Whole Foods? They typically have them in stock (or did, when I worked there). If you talk to the floral specialist, they can probably order them for you too.
posted by esmerelda_jenkins at 3:19 PM on October 13, 2012

If you're looking for dried, a fancy tea shop should have them in stock. I know several tea shops in Montreal's Chinatown have them.
posted by third word on a random page at 4:21 PM on October 13, 2012

Thanks for the ideas, so far. I had not thought about the Farmer's Markets--there's one right by office; so if I need to wait until spring, so be it. I also had not thought about asking the florist--we have a good relationship with one in the neighborhood, so maybe she can help us find untreated roses.

If you're curious, we intend to make this infusion from Jagendorf, M.A. Folk Wines, Cordials and Brandies:
Pick a dozen or two highly scented roses. Pick them early in the morning, before the sun has drawn out the perfume. Don't pick them the day after a rain. Separate the petals and remove the white and yellow parts from the ends, the stamen region. Be sure the petals are dry, then put them into a glass half-gallon or gallon jar and pour a quart of neutral spirits over them. Cover well and put in a dark place. Stir once or twice a week for about four weeks.

I'm not sure whether dried rosebuds would substitute appropriately.
posted by crush-onastick at 5:56 PM on October 13, 2012

I'm guessing not on the dried rose petals, since the recipe is so specific about what time of day to pick the roses and all. Then again, I guess that part could be voodoo.

You could definitely try it out and see. If it doesn't work with dry, wait till May or June and try again with fresh. The worst that could happen would be that the resulting liqueur doesn't taste good.
posted by Sara C. at 7:03 PM on October 13, 2012

The deal with picking roses at a certain hour is that although they make rose oil 24 hours a day, it only diffuses at above around 57F, so if you pick them before, say, 9am, the temperature hopefully hasn't gotten high enough that they've lost any yet. You end up with a whole night's worth of rose oil in your rose. By the time the day reaches 60F, you've lost a LOT of the perfume.

So it's not so much the time, as the temperature. If you had an anomalously cold day that never got over 45F, you could probably pick them a whole day later or any time you wanted and, I suppose you'd end up with a super perfumey rose.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:27 PM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I just don't know that this is the time to do this project, by the way. And not all roses are perfume roses, or even have much smell. If I were doing this project and didn't have a couple of perfume roses handy, I'd craigslist it, and offer to pay for perfume roses picked just so.

Our perfume rose puts out about 3 roses a day, max, so we've picked them early in the morning and stuck them in the freezer. When we get a useful number of them, we use them out of the freezer. Not sure that's orthodox, but it works.

Also, we were taught to pick them by the whole head. You end up with the bracts even (however you spell that). We went to a rose perfume place and they taught us that way. You just grab the whole head by the base of the petals and pull sharply down and it comes right off. Not very romantic- it mashes them- but it's quick, if you're picking hundreds, as they do, and it gets all the perfumey parts.

That was probably more info than you ever wanted but if not, feel free to memail me.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:31 PM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

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