where the wild things are. pickled rose petals

Below; Greecologies thick tangy yogurt, Dan Finn's maple syrup, wild fennel pollen foraged from the Sonoma Coast, pickled rose petals and a squeeze of lime.

I have been using a lot of rose in my kitchen lately. The smell of wild roses takes me straight back to the summers of my childhood where we spent a few precious days each year in Watch Hill Rhode Island where the shores were thick with rugosa and the air smelled of salt and rose. One of the very old houses I lived in on the Massachusetts Vermont border was surrounded by a thicket of rose. Many different varieties grew together in a tangled mass. I am sure some of them were planted purposefully over the years but by the time we moved in, both the house and the grounds had gone a bit wild. I like to imagine, that over the centuries, some of the women who had lived there were as obsessed with rose as I am and perhaps they used them for tea or cooking or for scents. The house had a long and rich history as the first post office in the town and it was said that the house harbored a spy during The French and Indian wars. Some of its former inhabitants still walked the halls when I lived there, shimmering lightly as they moved furniture and knocked things akimbo in the night. It is no coincidence that when we bought property upstate one of the first things we planted was roses, not perfect long stem roses, but the kind that grow without much care into wild blustering bushes, thick with single petal flowers and thorns. We also rescued roses from a nearby farm that was being leveled and torn down, we call these Edgar’s Roses. Over the years our rose bushes have been good to us and this year is no exception. We never spray them. When using rose for food you always want to make sure they have never been sprayed and are pesticide free.

My most recent rose obsession is a sweetened rose vinegar and pickled rose petals.The recipe is simple and while it seems a bit twee, I promise the pickled petals are the perfect accompaniment to a rich bowl of late summer yogurt or to an early fall pork roast. Make this now while the roses are abundant and summer still hangs at our door. Your fall larder will thank you later. xx

PICKLED ROSE PETALS

2 cups loosely packed rose petals ( use only organic pesticide free roses)

throw in some whole buds, they are very beautiful when pickled.

3 cups white rice wine vinegar (the white rice wine vinegar is sweeter and  less acidic than white wine vinegar, but if you only have white wine vinegar, don't worry just use it)

12 tablespoons of maple syrup ( if you use organic sugar instead of maple your liquid will stay a vibrant pink. Maple has great flavor but turns the liquid a little rose/brown)

6 teaspoons of kosher salt

 

METHOD

Submerge the petals in a bowl of water then drain lightly and lay out to dry  on dish towel. you want to bruise the petals as little as possible.

In a non reactive sauce pan, heat the vinegar, the salt and maple to just a simmer. Turn off and stir until the salt and maple are dissolved. Let cool about 10-15 minutes.

Place the rose petals in a large glass bowl and pour the cooled liquid over the roses. Store in a ball jar in your refrigerator. infuse for a a few days or so before using.The pickle will last for several months.The color will slowly fade and transform over time from a vibrant pink to a dusty brown pink. The pickling liquid will either be a vibrant pink or a brown pink depending on if you use maple or sugar. You can use this sweetened rose vinegar as you would any vinegar and use the pickled petals to accompany roasts or morning yogurt. 

 

SEE MY ROSE PETAL FRENCH TOAST HERE AND MY ROSE PETAL ICE CREAM HERE.

 

 

 

 

WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE. WILD FENNEL POLLEN. PART ONE.

 

 

HARVESTING WILD FENNEL POLLEN

Northern California smells good. Yes, I know I am making a broad sweeping statement–but it's true. Everytime I am out here, no matter the time of year, the thing that resonates is the smell. Sometimes, briny, smoky and woodsy, heavy with eucalyptus, pine and sage brush other times sweet with wild fennel and  dark summer fruits. Wild fennel grows everywhere in Northern  California; A beautiful weed feeding off fog and salt in the dry dusty soil and craggy rock along the  highways and oceans edge. Fennel pollen is used in many Mediterranean recipes.

 

Right now, it is in full bloom. Bright yellow clusters heavy with pollen. This year, the drought has given way to a particularly abundant crop. I fight the bees just a little for the flowers which I cut off in clusters. I cut only the ones fluffy with pollen, in the late afternoon after the sun has dried the residual morning dew. 

The pollen has buttery delicate fennel taste and slightly caramelized aroma.

 

 

 

PROCESS

 

- Cut the flower clusters in the late afternoon.

- Make sure they are dry, if not leave in the sun for an hour or so.

 - Process the pollen by rolling the flowers gently between my fingers over a large plate or sheet tray. Don't worry if some of the flowers fall  into the bowl. You will later sift out any big peices.

- Once you have processed all the flowers smooth the pollen out in a thin layer and leave somewhere out of the wind to completely dry.This can be an hour in the sun or overnight in indirect light. The fennel  flowers can become a bit sticky or a little wet during the rolling processes they release amy moisture or sap. 

- When dry sift through a  fine sieve into a bowl. Only the pollen will remain. During the drying process it will go from a bright turmeric yellow  to a more burnt turmeric.

 

I sifted mine twice through two different size sieves, I used a medium sieve for the first round and a fine sieve for the second round. Your sieve should sift out all the debris and from the pollen. If this is not the case, use a larger mesh sieve.

Store in a ball jar or a well sealed spice tin. This will last up to one year if completely dry.

 

If you are not fortunate enough to live on the West Coast where this grows abundantly wild, you may be able to find it at your local farmers market. It looks a lot like dill flower so ask the farmers. I spotted some at the Union Square green market yesterday. Or perhaps you have planted some in your garden and have let it go to flower?

Fennel pollen is also available at most spice markets and many food specialty shops.

 

Recipes to follow in part two.

My mind is dancing with ideas.

 

Thanks for the initial inspiration Samin!

xx