Okay folks, there’s only five weeks left of the 2020 edition of my column and I thought I’d focus solely on festive season inspired recipes and simple homemade gift ideas. Stay tuned for my infamous wholefood tiramisu recipe, which features tonnes of nourishing egg yolks, in the spirit of nutrient dense traditional foods, which we’ve been discussing over the past few weeks.
Now, it’s this time of year when the frantic search for gifts coincides with my roses blooming in all their spectacular aromatic splendour. We have a garden littered with mature plants and such an abundance of flowers in late Spring, that I started experimenting with rose petal vinegar just to make use of them all. We simply don’t have enough rooms in the house – nor vases – to keep up at this time of year, although granted, I do try!
I quickly discovered that rose petal vinegar is the perfect Christmas gift: ridiculously simple and quick to make (petals in vinegar, wait, strain, voila!), inexpensive if you have roses growing in your garden (essentially the cost of a pretty bottle) and something the recipient will genuinely appreciate and enjoy over the Summertime. At this time of year, with fresh salads stealing the lion’s share of the menu, having a few novelty dressing additions on hand, never goes astray.
The wonderful thing about rose petal vinegar is that it doubles as an impressive beauty product. I’m a firm believer in natural, low-tox cosmetics, so many of my beauty supplies are sourced from the kitchen. Thanks to decades of misleading marketing, we tend to underestimate how powerful homemade products have the potential to be – not to mention the fact that they’re inexpensive, readily accessible and better for our bodies and the environment.
Roses & vinegar: allies in beauty
As an ex-beauty therapist, I have a long-standing appreciation for roses. Their extensive list of active constituents and healing properties mean they have unparalleled scope when it comes to treating skin issues. You’ll see it recommended for dry skin, oily skin, inflamed skin, acne and rosacea-prone skin and mature, ageing skin, so there’s really no one it can’t help!
Raw apple cider vinegar is a fantastic multi-purpose skin tonic as well. Being a living food, it’s teeming with probiotics (one of the latest beauty trends), enzymes and the holy grail of skincare, and alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA) – citric and malic acid, to be precise.
And without wanting to sound like a skincare commercial, in my experience, it:
• Balances pH and oil production
• Wards off acne, due to its powerfully antimicrobial properties
• Lightens pigmentation and brightens skin tone, thanks to the AHA component
• Helps reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles, by exfoliating the skin – without scrubbing
Making rose petal vinegar
When it comes to selecting roses for this process, it’s extremely important that you only use organic, non-sprayed, preferably home-grown roses. Roses from a florist are not suitable for consumption as they have been sprayed with harmful pesticides.
It’s best to opt for flowers with the most vibrant colour and aroma as they will help create a more impressive finished product. Dark red roses are, by far, the best.
1. Remove the petals and place them on a plate. This helps the tiny rose-dwelling insects to exit, stage left.
2. Whilst they’re on the move, select a glass jar with an airtight lid. Sterilise it by filling it, slowly + carefully, with boiling water. Allow it to stand for 5 minutes, then drain and allow it to cool. Fill the jar half-way with raw apple cider vinegar.
3. According to the herbalist who showed me how to make this, the pale yellow edges of the petals which attach to the base of the flower can become bitter with time, so an optional step is to remove them. One by one, tear this edge off the petals and place the petals in the jar with the vinegar.
4. Use a clean utensil to push the petals beneath the surface of the vinegar. You can add more petals here if you wish. There’s no rule to follow here, though – work with what you’ve got. The higher the ratio of petals to vinegar, the more intense the resulting flavour and colour will be. Top with enough vinegar to reach the shoulder of the jar, leaving a space at the top. Attach the lid and allow it to sit in a warm spot for several days, until the colour has transferred from the petals to the vinegar. This will happen much faster in warm weather.
5. Strain out the petals and discard them. Then decant your vinegar into a suitable, sterilised glass bottle. Or if you’re happy with the current container, you can leave it, as is. If the vinegar is stored properly in a cool, dark cupboard, it should last several years. However, the flavour and colour will diminish with time.
Rose petal vinegar as a skin tonic
My favourite way to use rose petal vinegar topically is to keep it in a small glass spray bottle, spritzing it onto fingertips or a cotton pad and applying it to damp skin, post-cleanse and prior to moisturising. Be sure to avoid the eye area, completely.
Be aware that the first few times you use it in this way, the fruit acids may sting a little. If you’re yet to experience a salon ‘peel’, this is a much milder version of what they offer. Applying it whilst the skin is still damp helps to slightly dilute the acidity. However, if you have very dry, inflamed or sensitive skin, you might like to start with a 2:1 ratio of vinegar and water.
Well I hope you enjoy this recipe, folks! Stay tuned for more delicious entertaining and gift ideas over the coming weeks.