Revive A Lost Art
by MARY KOEHLER, PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA
of us can still remember our grandmother's potpourri or rose jar, occupying
a place of honor in her parlor and emitting a delicate and delicious
scent through the house whenever the lid was raised. For hundreds of
years potpourri recipes were passed down from generation to generation.
It is said that the custom originated because oldtime houses were damp
and poorly ventilated and the scent of the potpourri helped to relieve
the stuffy atmosphere. Although this no longer holds true, a revival
of this almost lost art can enrich our lives, for what could be more
pleasant than recalling, through a potpourri, the fragrance of summer
gardens during the long, bleak winter months?
for foundation, rose petals and salt prepared during the rose season,
turning and mixing the mass and adding constantly to it for two months.
Then place a portion of it on the bottom of the jar; spread a layer of
raw cotton over it, sprinkled with powdered cloves, mace, nutmeg, allspice,
cinnamon, orris root, caraway and fennel seeds (bruised), Cardamom pods
and seeds, or sprays of lavender, a handful of sage, thyme and rosemary,
shavings of cedar, any highly perfumed flowers, leaves of rose and lemon
geraniums, a sprinkling of camphor, sprigs of peppermint, spearmint and
a little musk. Any odiferous material, indeed, will add piquancy to the
potpourri. I sprinkle the layers with very strong vinegar, and add a handful
of salt each week during the time of putting in fresh materials. Cologne,
essential oils of various kinds and the sachet odors sold at a comparatively
low price in the wholesale drugstores prove fine additions. Such jars
opened daily for fifteen minutes fill a house with odors as spicy and
delicious as those wafted from the realms of "Araby the blest."
Our grandmothers used old-fashioned fragrant roses
for their jars: The Hundred-leaf or Cabbage Rose, Rosa gallica and the
Damask rose. Although these roses are not often found in modern gardens,
there are still fragrant roses to choose from, such as Crimson Glory,
Mirandy, Vogue, Etoile de Hollande and others.
There are many recipes for potpourris, but in
general, there are two methods, the "wet" and the "dry." The simplest
is the "dry" method, in which the petals are dried in an airy room away
from the sun for about a week until completely dry. In the "wet" method,
the petals are dried for a day or two, but not completely, and then
are packed alternately in jars with layers of table salt. In all recipes,
fixatives such as calamus powder, Orris root, or storax (powered benzoin),
are used to absorb and preserve the flower oils and scent.
Roses played an important role in the culinary
arts, too, our grandmothers showing inventiveness in their use of rose
petals and hips for jams, jellies and various types of confections.
In response to our request, members and friends
have sent in favorite rose receipes from all over the country, and we
have included as many of them as possible.
Mrs. W. W. McIntosh, Richland, Washington, sent
in the following recipes from The American Housewife, by Miss
T. S. Shute, published in 1878 by George T. Lewis and Menzies Co., Philadelphia,
orris root, rose petals, and aromatic calamus, each, one ounce; lavender
flower, ten ounces; rhodium, onefourth dram; musk, five grains. These
are to be mixed and reduced to a coarse powder. This scents clothes as
if fragrant flowers had been pressed in their folds.
the petals of the common rose (Rosa centifolia) and place, without
pressing them, in a common bottle. Pour some good spirits of wine upon
them, close the bottle and let it stand until required for use. This tincture
will keep for years, and yield a perfume little inferior to attar of roses.
A few drops of it will suffice to impregnate the atmosphere of a room
with a delicious odor. Common vinegar is greatly improved by a very small
quantity being added to it.
LET'S REVIVE A LOST ART 87
following three recipes were compiled by Robert Simpson, Cleveland,
Ohio, for a publication of the Forest City Rose Society:
and mix one oz. of orris root, ground nutmeg, ground clove, gum benzoin
and powdered storax.
In bottom of rose jar sprinkle a handful of common
salt and a little of the above mixture. As various fragrant herbs and
flowers bloom, gather, dry and add in layers. Sprinkle each with salt
and spice mixture. When above quantity of spice mixture has been used,
continue using salt alone between layers. Stir thoroughly each day until
all moisture seems dispelled. Cover tightly, ready for use in one month.
Use rose petals, lavender, lemon verbena, lemon balm, bergamot leaves,
rosemary, dried orange and lemon peel stuck with cloves, clove pink, carnations,
1 cup fine salt; add to this one heaping cupful rose petals, pressed down
very firmly, even mashed, and crushed so that a fairly large amount is
used. Stir the heated salt and rose petal mixture into 1/2 cup
of water, more if necessary, to make the mass hold together. Add a drop
of oil paint to make desired color, or omit if natural color is desired.
Reheat over asbestos plate, stirring constantly until smooth. Roll mass
1/4 inch thick, cut with thimble and roll each bead in the palm of the
hand until perfectly smooth and round. As beads are rolled, string on
#24 or #26 florist's wire. Hang in a dark place until completely dry before
stringing on dental floss. Move beads on occasion while drying to keep
holes free and beads from sticking to wire.
cupsful dried rose petals
1/4 lb. ground orris root
2 oz. sandalwood powder
1/4 lb. table salt
1/2 oz. ground cloves
1/4 oz. ground allspice
1/2 oz. ground cinnamon
2-3 vanilla beans
(Mrs. Leland Abbott, Amarillo, Texas)
sachets are prepared as follows: thoroughly mix all dry materials. Cut
large squares of net cloth (cotton). Cut cotton (like used in quilts)
into the same size squares as net. Place double handful (be generous)
of dry materials in center of cotton which has been placed on the net.
Fold in the four corners of the net and cotton, grasping the whole product
tightly to the materials inside; work the cotton down in the center toward
the inside of the bag (that is, inside itself). Leave the four corners
sticking out . . . they act as decorations. Tie as tightly as possible
a piece of narrow ribbon around the net where it is being grasped. Make
a pretty bow and place a drop or two of the concentrated oil down in the
center where the cotton was pushed down inside, use an eye dropper and
do not be generous. The oils are concentrates and an ounce will go a long
Dry rosebuds and petals
Whole spices (also dried peppermint leaves)
Oils as follows depending upon the odor desired:
Oil of lavender Oil of oranges
Oil of roses Oil of jasmine
(Mrs. George W. Dick, Shillington, Penna.)
a jar with a rather firm lid. I use hand-molded bean pots of various colors.
Dry the rose petals. They must be so dry they are almost brittle. Place
a layer of rose petals in the jar, cover lightly with ground cloves, cinnamon
and mace, all ground; add layer of rose petals and another of the spices
until the top of the jar has been reached. Add a little sweet cedar or
sandalwood. On top of the last layer add a few drops of your favorite
perfume. A number of these jars can be made up and stored until such time
as you find a use for them. If, after some months, they lose some of their
fragrance, it can always be renewed with the addition of the same spices
and a few drops of perfume. I now have a jar five years old and it still
scents the entire room when the lid is removed.
Helen H. Dreyer, Cincinnati, Ohio)
a word of advice before using roses in cookery. Our contributors tell
us that rose petals, leaves, buds and hips should always be washed
well to free them from all insecticides and fungicides. Rose
petals to be used in foods or beverages should always have the white
portion at the base cut away, as this is bitter. A rose flavor may be
obtained in standard cake and icing recipes by substituting 1/2 teaspoon
of extract of roses for standard flavoring.
(Mr. and Mrs. Jack Halpern, San Francisco, California)
3 doz. fresh roses (2 qts. fresh petals, loosely
1 qt. boiling water
4 cups sugar -
3 tablespoons lemon juice
petals from roses. Place in large bowl. Add boiling water. Cover and
steep for 20 minutes, or until all color is out of petals. Strain liquid
into shallow, wide pan. Add sugar and lemon juice. Cook over medium
heat, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved and mixture comes
to full rolling boil. Maintain boil until jelly stage is reached, that
is, when two drops will gather on the edge of
a metal spoon, then flow together to form a sheet. Skim and pour into
hot, sterilized glasses, then paraffin. Yields approximately eight 6
following recipe was contributed by Mrs. Clark B. Street, Phoenix, Arizona.
She found the recipe for rose-hip jam in the Agricultural Gazette of
New South Wales, Australia.
two pounds of rose-hips, two pints of water and cook until tender. Rub
through a sieve, making a rose-puree. Cut four apples, peel and all, and
cook in very little water until tender. Rub through a sieve, making an
apple-puree. Combine rose hip-puree and apple-puree with two and onehalf
pounds of sugar and one-third cup of lemon juice. Boil fifteen minutes
after reaching the rolling boiling stage. Delicious!
H. A. Cowles, Webster, New York, contributed the following two recipes:
two cups Rosa rugosa hips (or haws). Wash thoroughly and cut out the black
calyx. Cook hips in two cups water until tender. Mash fruit while cooking.
Push pulp through fine sieve and to each cup of pulp add one cup of water.
Then cook until the pulp thickens to the consistency of other jams. This
jam has the delightful fragrance of roses and slight flavor of tomato
rose hips in the water about 15 minutes and occasionally crush them. When
they are tender, pour into jelly bag and strain off juice. This quanity
yields about 7/8 cup of juice to which add enough water to make a cupful
then add one tsp. lemon juice, 3/4 cup sugar and cook rapidly until juice
jellies on a silver spoon. This will thin to a honey consistency when
cold. It is delicious served on waffles, pancakes and as a cake filling.
S. R. Savage of Overton, Texas, sent in two recipes and tells us that
the following recipe was given her in England by a woman who had spent
many years in Persia (now Iran): PERSIAN ROSE JAM
1 lb. clean rose petals 4 lbs. sugar
the rose petals with about one pound of sugar, then put them into a
saucepan with five tumblers of water, add the rest of the sugar, boil
until the sugar thickens. Just before taking off the fire pour in the
juice of three lemons. The Persians used a rose which blossomed only
in May and June, but I believe any fragrant Hybrid Tea, such as Crimson
Glory, would do equally well.
one pint of rose-hips and peelings from two tart apples; cover with water
and cook until tender. Crush and let drip through thin muslin bag for
clearness. Measure two cups of juice and add two cups sugar and bring
to the boiling point. Add 1/2 cup lemon juice and boil briskly for 12
to 15 minutes. Test for jell after 10 minutes, if boiled too long it will
toughen. (Never make more than two cups at one time.) ROSE JELLY
(Mrs. Lewis H. Friedman, Rochester, New York)
two quarts washed, fragrant rose petals. Rinse last in salt water. One
qt. water and two qts. rose petals must boil down to one pint in volume.
Strain off petals, reserving two tablespoons of them and chop finely.
Rose petals must be picked at noon if you wish
to store them for two or three weeks or until you have gathered enough
petals to work with. Store in air-tight jar in refrigerator. Be sure
to cover the kettle when boiling rose petals because of the pungent
gas given off. If petals are gathered during or after rain, begin to
work with them immediately. 1 pt. rose extract (made as above)
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons white Karo syrup
2 tablespoons rose extract which should be reserved
from pint. Food coloring as desired.
the rose extract with the sugar until it forms a web over fork, mix
Karo syrup with the two tablespoons rose extract and the coloring. Then
add to jelly. Boil again for seven to nine minutes. Add the two tablespoons
finely chopped rose petals, then pour into sterilized jars. This jelly
will not hold its form as other jellies. This is used to flavor candies,
frostings and served over meringues and ice cream, etc.
following recipes were compiled by Robert Simpson, Cleveland, Ohio,
for the Forest City Rose Society:
off white base of fragrant rose petals. Chop in wooden chopping bowl while
fresh. To each cupful chopped petals add 13/4 cups granulated sugar. Put
in jar and cover tightly to keep out all air. Let stand for one month.
By that time clear liquid will have formed on top. Pour this off to be
used as flavoring for sauces, custards and ices. The solid part is to
be used in cakes, puddings, pies, etc. Two tablespoons of this pulp gives
tang and aroma to special desserts, whipped jello, whipped cream, marshmallow,
petals in water gently until tender, and color removed (one- half to one
hour). Keep pot covered. Strain, pressing gently. Return liquor to fire,
bring to boil. Add sugar one pound at a time slowly until dissolved. Bring
to candy stage. Return rose petals to syrup. Remove at once, stir until
uniform. Cool and then pot up. Keeps without sealing.
lb. red rose petals (white removed)
11/2 pts. water
4 lbs. confectioners' sugar
three cups strained honey and one cup hot water. Mix thoroughly and bring
to quick boil. Add 1/2 bottle fruit pectin immediately. Bring to full
rolling boil and remove from stove at once. Skim, add one teaspoon of
extract of roses, stir thoroughly and pour quickly into sterilized jelly
glasses and seal. Makes five glasses.
off white base of sweet-scented rose petals. Mash pound trimmed petals
with wooden masher. Boil in one pint
water 15 minutes. Strain, add two pounds strained
honey. Boil down to thick syrup. Pour into scalded glasses and seal. Pour
one thin layer of paraffin and let set. Add a washed rose leaf or two
and cover with another thin layer of paraffin.
bottom of glass jar put a layer each of butter and washed rose leaves
(sweetbriar). Build up with layers. When full, seal until used on hot
biscuits with fruit salads, etc.
a cup fragrant rose petals (white removed) add one pint boiling white
vinegar. Cover tightly, let stand 10 days, strain. Vary using rosemary,
or lavender with roses.
together for five minutes, two cupsful water and 1/2 cupful sugar.
Pour this over 1/2 cupful finely minced sweetbriar rose leaves. Cool,
add juice of three lemons. Strain, color light green. Freeze in cubes,
use in fruit drinks and herb teas.
two cups fresh rose petals in water overnight or at least four hours.
Petals should be under pressure while soaking. Add to sweetened fruit
five minutes: one heaping teaspoon of Rosa canina hips in one cup water,
strain and serve as other tea. May also be made by steeping hips for ten
minutes in boiling water.
rims of beverage glasses in a mixture of egg white and a little rose water
whipped to a froth. Sprinkle with granulated sugar, dry on wax paper.
leaves (not petals), angelica stalk, mint or sage leaves and flowers,
roots of lovage and violets. Make syrup of one pound sugar and one pint
water, boil to ball stage when dropped in cold water. Remove from fire.
Drop in selected, washed and dried leaves and flowers, pressing down without
stirring. These should be thoroughly dry. Bring syrup to boil again, pour
into flat container and set aside. The second day drain flowers, etc.,
and add 1/4 pound sugar to syrup and boil
FLOWERS AND LEAVES
to ball stage. Put in flowers, etc., again bring
to boiling point and set aside. The third day repeat the process but when
syrup comes to boil after flowers are added, stir flowers lightly until
syrup granulates, then pour on sheets of wax paper. Breakage can best
be avoided by separating flowers with fork. Use for cake and dessert topping.
petals must be dry and clean. Dip both sides in slightly whipped white
of egg or brush with camel-hair brush, then coat both sides of the petals
immediately with granulated sugar and lay carefully on waxed paper. Allow
to dry thoroughly before packing in boxes. To hasten drying, turn the
petals once. They will keep for a year.
SUGARED ROSE PETALS (Mrs. Ralph Lane, Morrison, Illinois)
ROSE PETALS (Mrs. George Kubis, Rivera, California)
a cooked fondant one day in advance. (Do not make fondant on damp or
rainy day as moisture affects the sugar.) Use a clean enamel or agate
sauce pan. Put in two cups granulated sugar and 1/2 cup boiling water.
Stir only till dissolved! Take out spoon and let sugar and water come
to boil. Have ready a soft linen cloth tied to a stick. As the grains
of sugar are thrown against the sides of the pan use the swab to wipe
them off. (It can be moistened in cold water, but not be dripping.)
If sugar grains fall in syrup it will granulate.
When it forms a soft ball it is done; (10 minutes).
Remove from fire and lift carefully (if it is handled roughly
it will granulate instead of being creamy.) Carefully pour into shallow
bowl and cool. Do not jar it. If jellylike film spreads over top, fondant
is all right. When fondant is cooled to lukewarm, stir with a spoon
until it is stiff paste. Knead it till soft and smooth. Store in bowl
and cover with damp cloth. The next day add to one cup of fondant 3
drops of lemon juice and stir over hot water or in a vessel set in a
pan of hot water until thoroughly melted. Have fine perfect rose leaves
or petals which you have spread out and allowed to become dry but not
crisp. Dip each leaf or petal in fondant and take it out carefully with
a toothpick and lay on a sheet of waxed paper to dry. Violets and strawberries
may also be candied this way.
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