The following post has been published in 2010, when we had the visit of Chef Helal in our kitchens. After the hacking of my blog, all the photos from this post were lost along with many others… I re-did the jam today because I think it’s really worth sharing such an interesting recipe. Also, I hope with all my heart that Chef Helal and his family are safe and sound in the middle of Syria’s unrest.
Following all that flower excitement in the past few weeks with Chef Helal’s visit and from last week Pastry Challenge, I was poised to find out the truth about the much-talked-about Rose Petal Jam.
Chef Helal had told us how to handle rose petals to create the most subtle and fragrant jam. He also emphasized on the crop of rose needed in order the achieve THE rose petal jam, and it had to be “Damascus Roses”… of course! It was nearly impossible for us to get these roses organically grown, thus we settled for organic untreated red roses.
Chef explained to us the recipe based on 1 kg of rose petals. When I started to pick the petals, I laughed away with my 100 grams of rose petals! Indeed, it’s light as feather and it comes at quite an high cost if you go for quality… but hey, aren’t we here in pursuit of the perfect taste? Well… for a first try, I used 100 grams of regular untreated organic red roses that seemed to have enough fragrance.
The next step was to mix them with three times the weight of roses, thus 300 grams of white sugar. I chopped the petals with a knife to make sure the natural oil would be well infused in the sugar. At that point, we leave the rose petal and the sugar in a covered container for about 5 hours. The sugar will melt with the essence of the petals…
Here comes the tricky part…. No…. I’m kidding, there’s no trick in doing this century old jam!! :)
We cook it on very low heat. I tried to cook it for 20 minutes and it seemed not enough, and ended up cooking it for almost an hour to make the petals softer, I added a little water during the cooking to avoid the jam from burning. Once cooked, I added a pinch of citric acid (as per the strict directions from chef Helal who calls it “Lemon salt”) and the juice of one lemon. The acidity binds the flavors and cuts the sweetness.
As you can see, the color and texture of a “real” rose petal jam is somehow demystified. Intense, yet with a lovely fragrance and texture, far from these chemically flavored wanna-be rose petal jam! But in the end, it’s a matter of taste. Some people might appreciate a more jelly-like approach, other like it blend with fruits.
Once the jar was filled, I did as my Mother taught me so well, and turned them up-side-down, covered with a towel until fully cooled. I am now looking forward to digging in!!