Amanda’s note: Here is another great tutorial from Ramya Venkateshwaran, writing in India from her website WildTurmeric.net. I asked her to share her process for rose water and was delighted again with her wealth of experience. You will see what I mean.
Making rose water at home is a such a joy and it is very easy to make.
The quality of the rose water greatly depends on the quality of the roses you are using. Getting the right variety of roses, especially roses that are not sprayed with pesticides is very important. Select roses that smell good and are fresh. I have rose plants in our farm and I usually collect it from there, as it is very difficult to get pesticide free roses in the market here in India. The roses that I am using are quite fragrant — a variety commonly called “Damask Rose” — the best variety for making rose water.
Damask roses don’t look very pretty and they are very rarely used in flower arrangements, but they are excellent for making jams and rose water. I usually collect the fresh roses early in the morning, when they are fresh and prefer to make the rose water as soon as possible.
Rose water can be made in a variety of ways and the most basic method is by boiling the roses along with water until it reduces down to a flavorful liquid. However, I prefer the condensation method of making rose water (a hydrosol method), as the rose water made this way is very aromatic.
Try making this rose water when you have plenty of time, as you need at least a good 2 to 3 hours of cooking time. There is very little work involved in making the rose water, only the cooking part takes time.
(Check out the post on making your own hydrosol here that uses this same method, simply add rose petals.)
To make this rose water collect fresh roses and gather a ceramic pot and three bowls according to the instructions. (A stainless steel soup pot will work as well.) Choose two bowls to use inside the pot — one which you will place upside down in your pot and one that you will place right-side-up sitting on top of the first. Take the first bowl, invert it, and place it in the middle of the pot. Add the roses. Place the second bowl on top of the inverted bowl to collect the rose water. Cover the pot with a bowl full of ice cold water, in lieu of a lid. Once it starts boiling, the vapors will rise hit the ceramic pot top, condense, and fall back in the container in the pot. Once enough rose water has been collected, switch off the heat.
Remove the rose water that has been collected carefully and store it in a glass bottle in the refrigerator.
For a second method, I describe an approach in the video below.
This rose water can be used as a toner or as a base for making homemade lotions and moisturizers. Of course, it is also used in recipes from Indian cuisine.
To use, take a little of the rose water in a small cup, dip a cotton ball in the mixture and use it as a toner. If you are using the ordinary roses, you will not get the beautiful pink color and the heavenly smell of the traditional rose water. I have used this rose water as a base for making my all my lotions and creams and I am totally addicted to this rose water. Any time you open my refrigerator, you will find a bottle of this rose water there. Once you make a batch of this rose water, you will be hooked just like me 🙂
This rose water can be stored in the refrigerator for about a month.