Rose Hydrosol

There is a rose near my kitchen window called Zephryn Drouhine. It is an old Bourbon thornless climber and it is the most fragrant rose I’ve ever grown. Or so I thought. One of the amazing things about my house in The Cedars is the terraced rose garden along the fence line between me and my closest neighbor. When I moved in the roses were suffering from neglect. I’ve pruned, cultivated, fertilized, and otherwise worked with them, and they are better, but still not generous with their blooms. Except for the sprawling climber that really needs a wall. Dark maroon, light spicy fragrance, abundant blooms. This year, a rose that bore only tiny, wrinkled blooms has been horking up the most magnificent huge deep red blooms. Heavy with petals packed and dense. And the aroma! An archetypal scent, heavy and persistent. With this beauty and the still winningly fragrant Zephryn, I’ve been making rose hydrosol. Four hands full of petals placed in a stock pot into which I’d placed an upside down bowl. Arranging the petals around that bowl like a wreath, then placing another bowl, right-side-up to catch the fragrant drops on top of the first one. Five cups of distilled water go in, then the lid goes on – inverted – to hold the ice that will create the condensation that will fall drop by drop into the top bowl. I turn the burner on low, and wait for the steam to come. When this happens, a big zip-lock of ice goes onto the inverted lid. Steam for half an hour, changing the ice out as it melts. Then turn the heat off, continuing to replace the ice until the pot is no longer steaming. I’ve been collecting about 4 ounces of hydrosol per session. Definitely rosey, and vegetabley too. I’m hoping to get more rose and less cooked-petal aroma. I’ll keep going until I have sixteen ounces, then use it to make a lotion I’ve been plotting. The next batch will go to a facial spritz to keep in the fridge for the upcoming hot days. Then a cream, a toner, and so on as long as the roses keep up their generosity.