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Catholic Recipe: Flower and Herb Crafts and Recipes



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Also Called: Let's Revive A Lost Art

Many of us can still remember our grandmother's potpourri or rose jar, occupying a place of honor in her parlor and emitting a delicate and delicious scent through the house whenever the lid was raised. For hundreds of years potpourri recipes were passed down from generation to generation. It is said that the custom originated because old-time houses were damp and poorly ventilated and the scent of the potpourri helped to relieve the stuffy atmosphere. Although this no longer holds true, a revival of this almost lost art can enrich our lives, for what could be more pleasant than recalling, through a potpourri, the fragrance of summer gardens during the long, bleak winter months?

Our grandmothers used old-fashioned fragrant roses for their jars: The Hundred-leaf or Cabbage Rose, Rosa gallica and the Damask rose. Although these roses are not often found in modern gardens, there are still fragrant roses to choose from, such as Crimson Glory, Mirandy, Vogue, Etoile de Hollande and others.

There are many recipes for potpourris, but in general, there are two methods, the "wet" and the "dry." The simplest is the "dry" method, in which the petals are dried in an airy room away from the sun for about a week until completely dry. In the "wet" method, the petals are dried for a day or two, but not completely, and then are packed alternately in jars with layers of table salt. In all recipes, fixatives such as calamus powder, Orris root, or storax (powered benzoin), are used to absorb and preserve the flower oils and scent.

Roses played an important role in the culinary arts, too, our grandmothers showing inventiveness in their use of rose petals and hips for jams, jellies and various types of confections.

In response to our request, members and friends have sent in favorite rose recipes from all over the country, and we have included as many of them as possible.


Mrs. W. W. McIntosh, Richland, Washington, sent in the following recipes from The American Housewife, by Miss T. S. Shute, published in 1878 by George T. Lewis and Menzies Co., Philadelphia, Pa.:

Take, for foundation, rose petals and salt prepared during the rose season, turning and mixing the mass and adding constantly to it for two months. Then place a portion of it on the bottom of the jar; spread a layer of raw cotton over it, sprinkled with powdered cloves, mace, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, orris root, caraway and fennel seeds (bruised), Cardamom pods and seeds, or sprays of lavender, a handful of sage, thyme and rosemary, shavings of cedar, any highly perfumed flowers, leaves of rose and lemon geraniums, a sprinkling of camphor, sprigs of peppermint, spearmint and a little musk. Any odiferous material, indeed, will add piquancy to the potpourri. I sprinkle the layers with very strong vinegar, and add a handful of salt each week during the time of putting in fresh materials. Cologne, essential oils of various kinds and the sachet odors sold at a comparatively low price in the wholesale drugstores prove fine additions. Such jars opened daily for fifteen minutes fill a house with odors as spicy and delicious as those wafted from the realms of "Araby the blest."

Coriander, orris root, rosepetals, and aromatic calamus, each, one ounce; lavender flower, ten ounces; rhodium, onefourth dram; musk, five grains. These are to be mixed and reduced to a coarse powder. This scents clothes as if fragrant flowers had been pressed in their folds.

Take the petals of the common rose (Rosa centifolia) and place, without pressing them, in a common bottle. Pour some good spirits of wine upon them, close the bottle and let it stand until required for use. This tincture will keep for years, and yield a perfume little inferior to attar of roses. A few drops of it will suffice to impregnate the atmosphere of a room with a delicious odor. Common vinegar is greatly improved by a very small quantity being added to it.

The following three recipes were compiled by Robert Simpson, Cleveland, Ohio, for a publication of the Forest City Rose Society:

Crush and mix one oz. of orris root, ground nutmeg, ground clove, gum benzoin and powdered storax.

In bottom of rose jar sprinkle a handful of common salt and a little of the above mixture. As various fragrant herbs and flowers bloom, gather, dry and add in layers. Sprinkle each with salt and spice mixture. When above quantity of spice mixture has been used, continue using salt alone between layers. Stir thoroughly each day until all moisture seems dispelled. Cover tightly, ready for use in one month. Use rose petals, lavender, lemon verbena, lemon balm, bergamot leaves, rosemary, dried orange and lemon peel stuck with cloves, clove pink, carnations, etc.


10 cupfuls dried rose petals
1/4 lb. ground orris root
2 oz. sandalwood powder
1/4 lb. table salt
1/2 oz. ground cloves
1/4 oz. ground allspice
1/2 oz. ground cinnamon
2-3 vanilla beans

Heat 1 cup fine salt; add to this one heaping cupful rose petals, pressed down very firmly, even mashed, and crushed so that a fairly large amount is used. Stir the heated salt and rose petal mixture into 1/2 cup of water, more if necessary, to make the mass hold together. Add a drop of oil paint to make desired color, or omit if natural color is desired. Reheat over asbestos plate, stirring constantly until smooth. Roll mass 1/4 inch thick, cut with thimble and roll each bead in the palm of the hand until perfectly smooth and round. As beads are rolled, string on #24 or #26 florist's wire. Hang in a dark place until completely dry before stringing on dental floss. Move beads on occasion while drying to keep holes free and beads from sticking to wire.

(Mrs. Leland Abbott, Amarillo, Texas)

Dry lavender leaves
Dry rosebuds and petals
Whole spices (also dried peppermint leaves)
Oils as follows depending upon the odor desired:
Oil of lavender
Oil of oranges
Oil of roses
Oil of jasmine

The sachets are prepared as follows: thoroughly mix all dry materials. Cut large squares of net cloth (cotton). Cut cotton (like used in quilts) into the same size squares as net. Place double handful (be generous) of dry materials in center of cotton which has been placed on the net. Fold in the four corners of the net and cotton, grasping the whole product tightly to the materials inside; work the cotton down in the center toward the inside of the bag (that is, inside itself). Leave the four corners sticking out . . . they act as decorations. Tie as tightly as possible a piece of narrow ribbon around the net where it is being grasped. Make a pretty bow and place a drop or two of the concentrated oil down in the center where the cotton was pushed down inside, use an eye dropper and do not be generous. The oils are concentrates and an ounce will go a long way.

(Mrs. George W. Dick, Shillington, Penna.)

3 gallons dried rose petals (not in the sun)
1/4 lb. orris root add first and
3/4 lb. lavender flowers mix well
1/8 oz. oil bergamot
1/8 oz. oil rosemary
1/8 oz. oil violet flowers
1/8 oz. oil jasmine
1/8 oz. oil lavender flowers
1/8 oz. oil bay
1/8 oz. oil verbena
1/8 oz. oil geranium
1/8 oz. oil Turkish myrrh (resin powder)
10 grains Musk Aribrette (synthetic)

The oils may be obtained from any good pharmacy and all or few may be used. Place in tightly covered containers, mixing well every two or three days. Will be ready for use in five or six weeks.


(Mrs. Helen H. Dreyer, Cincinnati, Ohio) Select a jar with a rather firm lid. I use hand-molded bean pots of various colors. Dry the rose petals. They must be so dry they are almost brittle. Place a layer of rose petals in the jar, cover lightly with ground cloves, cinnamon and mace, all ground; add layer of rose petals and another of the spices until the top of the jar has been reached. Add a little sweet cedar or sandalwood. On top of the last layer add a few drops of your favorite perfume. A number of these jars can be made up and stored until such time as you find a use for them. If, after some months, they lose some of their fragrance, it can always be renewed with the addition of the same spices and a few drops of perfume. I now have a jar five years old and it still scents the entire room when the lid is removed.

Just a word of advice before using roses in cookery. Our contributors tell us that rose petals, leaves, buds and hips should always be washed well to free them from all insecticides and fungicides. Rose petals to be used in foods or beverages should always have the white portion at the base cut away, as this is bitter. A rose flavor may be obtained in standard cake and icing recipes by substituting 1/2 teaspoon of extract of roses for standard flavoring.

(Mr. and Mrs. Jack Halpern, San Francisco, California)
3 doz. fresh roses (2 qts. fresh petals, loosely packed)
1 qt. boiling water
4 cups sugar -
3 tablespoons lemon juice

Remove petals from roses. Place in large bowl. Add boiling water. Cover and steep for 20 minutes, or until all color is out of petals. Strain liquid into shallow, wide pan. Add sugar and lemon juice. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved and mixture comes to full rolling boil. Maintain boil until jelly stage is reached, that is, when two drops will gather on the edge of a metal spoon, then flow together to form a sheet. Skim and pour into hot, sterilized glasses, then paraffin. Yields approximately eight 6 oz. glasses.

The following recipe was contributed by Mrs. Clark B. Street, Phoenix, Arizona. She found the recipe for rose-hip jam in the Agricultural Gazette of New South Wales, Australia.

Select two pounds of rose-hips, two pints of water and cook until tender. Rub through a sieve, making a rose-puree. Cut four apples, peel and all, and cook in very little water until tender. Rub through a sieve, making an apple-puree. Combine rose hip-puree and apple-puree with two and one half pounds of sugar and one-third cup of lemon juice. Boil fifteen minutes after reaching the rolling boiling stage. Delicious!

Mrs. H. A. Cowles, Webster, New York, contributed the following two recipes:

Take two cups Rosa rugosa hips (or haws). Wash thoroughly and cut out the black calyx. Cook hips in two cups water until tender. Mash fruit while cooking. Push pulp through fine sieve and to each cup of pulp add one cup of water. Then cook until the pulp thickens to the consistency of other jams. This jam has the delightful fragrance of roses and slight flavor of tomato jam.


1 and 3/4 cups cleaned rose hips
2 and 1/2 cups water

Cook rose hips in the water about 15 minutes and occasionally crush them. When they are tender, pour into jelly bag and strain off juice. This quantity yields about 7/8 cup of juice to which add enough water to make a cupful then add one tsp. lemon juice, 3/4 cup sugar and cook rapidly until juice jellies on a silver spoon. This will thin to a honey consistency when cold. It is delicious served on waffles, pancakes and as a cake filling.

Mrs. S. R. Savage of Overton, Texas, sent in two recipes and tells us that the following recipe was given her in England by a woman who had spent many years in Persia (now Iran):

1 lb. clean rose petals
4 lbs. sugar
3 lemons

Rub the rose petals with about one pound of sugar, then put them into a saucepan with five tumblers of water, add the rest of the sugar, boil until the sugar thickens. Just before taking off the fire pour in the juice of three lemons. The Persians used a rose which blossomed only in May and June, but I believe any fragrant Hybrid Tea, such as Crimson Glory, would do equally well.

Take one pint of rose-hips and peelings from two tart apples; cover with water and cook until tender. Crush and let drip through thin muslin bag for clearness. Measure two cups of juice and add two cups sugar and bring to the boiling point. Add 1/2 cup lemon juice and boil briskly for 12 to 15 minutes. Test for jell after 10 minutes, if boiled too long it will toughen. (Never make more than two cups at one time.)

(Mrs. Lewis H. Friedman, Rochester, New York)

Take two quarts washed, fragrant rose petals. Rinse last in salt water. One qt. water and two qts. rose petals must boil down to one pint in volume. Strain off petals, reserving two tablespoons of them and chop finely.
Rose petals must be picked at noon if you wish to store them for two or three weeks or until you have gathered enough petals to work with. Store in air-tight jar in refrigerator. Be sure to cover the kettle when boiling rose petals because of the pungent gas given off. If petals are gathered during or after rain, begin to work with them immediately. 1 pt. rose extract (made as above)
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons white Karo syrup
2 tablespoons rose extract which should be reserved from pint. Food coloring as desired.

Boil the rose extract with the sugar until it forms a web over fork, mix Karo syrup with the two tablespoons rose extract and the coloring. Then add to jelly. Boil again for seven to nine minutes. Add the two tablespoons finely chopped rose petals, then pour into sterilized jars. This jelly will not hold its form as other jellies. This is used to flavor candies, frostings and served over meringues and ice cream, etc.

The following recipes were compiled by Robert Simpson, Cleveland, Ohio, for the Forest City Rose Society:

Cut off white base of fragrant rose petals. Chop in wooden chopping bowl while fresh. To each cupful chopped petals add 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar. Put in jar and cover tightly to keep out all air. Let stand for one month. By that time clear liquid will have formed on top. Pour this off to be used as flavoring for sauces, custards and ices. The solid part is to be used in cakes, puddings, pies, etc. Two tablespoons of this pulp gives tang and aroma to special desserts, whipped jello, whipped cream, marshmallow, etc.


1 lb. red rose petals (white removed)
1 1/2 pts. water
4 lbs. confectioners' sugar Boil petals in water gently until tender, and color removed (one- half to one hour). Keep pot covered. Strain, pressing gently. Return liquor to fire, bring to boil. Add sugar one pound at a time slowly until dissolved. Bring to candy stage. Return rose petals to syrup. Remove at once, stir until uniform. Cool and then pot up. Keeps without sealing.

Mix three cups strained honey and one cup hot water. Mix thoroughly and bring to quick boil. Add 1/2 bottle fruit pectin immediately. Bring to full rolling boil and remove from stove at once. Skim, add one teaspoon of extract of roses, stir thoroughly and pour quickly into sterilized jelly glasses and seal. Makes five glasses.

Cut off white base of sweet-scented rose petals. Mash pound trimmed petals with wooden masher. Boil in one pint water 15 minutes. Strain, add two pounds strained honey. Boil down to thick syrup. Pour into scalded glasses and seal. Pour one thin layer of paraffin and let set. Add a washed rose leaf or two and cover with another thin layer of paraffin.

In bottom of glass jar put a layer each of butter and washed rose leaves (sweetbriar). Build up with layers. When full, seal until used on hot biscuits with fruit salads, etc.

To a cup fragrant rose petals (white removed) add one pint boiling white vinegar. Cover tightly, let stand 10 days, strain. Vary using rosemary, or lavender with roses.

Boil together for five minutes, two cupfuls water and 1/2 cupful sugar. Pour this over 1/2 cupful finely minced sweetbriar rose leaves. Cool, add juice of three lemons. Strain, color light green. Freeze in cubes, use in fruit drinks and herb teas.

Soak two cups fresh rose petals in water overnight or at least four hours. Petals should be under pressure while soaking. Add to sweetened fruit juice.

Boil five minutes: one heaping teaspoon of Rosa canina hips in one cup water, strain and serve as other tea. May also be made by steeping hips for ten minutes in boiling water.

Twirl rims of beverage glasses in a mixture of egg white and a little rose water whipped to a froth. Sprinkle with granulated sugar, dry on wax paper.

leaves (not petals), angelica stalk, mint or sage leaves and flowers, roots of lovage and violets. Make syrup of one pound sugar and one pint water, boil to ball stage when dropped in cold water. Remove from fire. Drop in selected, washed and dried leaves and flowers, pressing down without stirring. These should be thoroughly dry. Bring syrup to boil again, pour into flat container and set aside. The second day drain flowers, etc., and add 1/4 pound sugar to syrup and boil to ball stage. Put in flowers, etc., again bring to boiling point and set aside. The third day repeat the process but when syrup comes to boil after flowers are added, stir flowers lightly until syrup granulates, then pour on sheets of wax paper. Breakage can best be avoided by separating flowers with fork. Use for cake and dessert topping.

CANDIED SUGARED ROSE PETALS (Mrs. Ralph Lane, Morrison, Illinois)
petals must be dry and clean. Dip both sides in slightly whipped white of egg or brush with camel-hair brush, then coat both sides of the petals immediately with granulated sugar and lay carefully on waxed paper. Allow to dry thoroughly before packing in boxes. To hasten drying, turn the petals once. They will keep for a year.

CANDIED ROSE PETALS (Mrs. George Kubis, Rivera, California)

Prepare a cooked fondant one day in advance. (Do not make fondant on damp or rainy day as moisture affects the sugar.) Use a clean enamel or agate sauce pan. Put in two cups granulated sugar and 1/2 cup boiling water. Stir only till dissolved! Take out spoon and let sugar and water come to boil. Have ready a soft linen cloth tied to a stick. As the grains of sugar are thrown against the sides of the pan use the swab to wipe them off. (It can be moistened in cold water, but not be dripping.) If sugar grains fall in syrup it will granulate.
When it forms a soft ball it is done; (10 minutes). Remove from fire and lift carefully (if it is handled roughly it will granulate instead of being creamy.) Carefully pour into shallow bowl and cool. Do not jar it. If jellylike film spreads over top, fondant is all right. When fondant is cooled to lukewarm, stir with a spoon until it is stiff paste. Knead it till soft and smooth. Store in bowl and cover with damp cloth. The next day add to one cup of fondant 3 drops of lemon juice and stir over hot water or in a vessel set in a pan of hot water until thoroughly melted. Have fine perfect rose leaves or petals which you have spread out and allowed to become dry but not crisp. Dip each leaf or petal in fondant and take it out carefully with a toothpick and lay on a sheet of waxed paper to dry. Violets and strawberries may also be candied this way.

Recipe Source: Recipes from Various Websites