The roses are in full bloom at Middle Mountain, which can only mean one thing: it’s petal pickin’ season! It’s time to set aside your fear of getting stung by bees, reach into the bushes and grab those petals.
Here’s a little bit of background:
Mead is often made with spices and herbs, but Helen and Steve put a twist on this by making a dessert mead called “Rosemeade“. Since rose petals are the key ingredient, somebody’s got to do the dirty work. Bring in the apprentices!
In reality I’m exaggerating. The task isn’t bad at all. You just have to make sure there aren’t any bees hanging out inside the rose. If there are bees I just move on and revisit later. I wouldn’t want to interrupt their hard work. There’s been a lot of information about bees in the media lately, including the Netflix documentary “Vanishing of the Bees“, and rightfully so. It’s been said that about one-third of humans’ diets are dependant, either directly or indirectly, upon insect-pollinated plants. So in theory, bees could be responsible for 1 out of every 3 bites of food we consume. Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is the large scale death of bees around the globe, with one of the likely culprits being exposure to pesticides. Those little guys deserve some respect.
We only gather petals from the most fragrant roses, as they contribute the most to the flavour of the mead. In this case, the rose bushes with the large, fluffy pink petals work much better than the classic red roses, despite the red ones looking pretty much florist ready!
To “de-petal” a rose, lightly grab the stem so as to not feel the wrath of thorns, softly grab the petals off the fully bloomed roses and drop them in your bag. If the rose hasn’t fully bloomed you end up taking the sepals (green part underneath the petals) with you, then having to separate the petals from the sepals. It’s unbelievable how quickly you can accumulate a healthy bag full, despite always losing one or two petals per rose to the ground.
We then put the petals into this nifty hanging herb dryer inside the greenhouse. It’s made of mesh so airflow is maximized, plus the heat in the greenhouse really expedites the process.
After 2 to 3 days the petals are dry and ready for storage until its time to make another batch of Rosemeade. We can’t say with certainty how many rose petals go into a bottle of the good stuff, but let’s just say its lots.
Now, I would be lying if I said we haven’t considered making some sort of romantic trail to our bed using rose petals, but the practicality in us keeps saying “You know what’s better than a trail of petals? A bottle of Rosemeade”. Same same, but different.
A rose can be so much more than just a pretty face.