Four recipes for homemade rose remedies

June is rose season. From the old cultivated roses that crowd our back walk, to the wild pink roses along our road, and the smaller white blooms in the neighbor’s pastures, they’re a sight–and a smell–to behold.

If ever there was a case for smell-o-vision, this would be it.

Wild Rose Remedies: five simple recipes to make at home.

Rose remedies are (emotional) heart remedies. During times of grief, trauma, fear, and transitions they can be a soothing comfort. These remedies do not stand-alone, of course, but represent one more piece in your healing journey. Rose also provides an energetically protective space in which to process, grieve, and heal.

Rose remedies are a balm for those feeling alone, vulnerable, tender, or broken. Stephanie from Sweetbriar Farms sent me two bottle of rose glycerite when Charlie died last summer, one of which I subsequently passed on to a friend whose brother was dying. This act of kindness was healing in and of itself, all roses aside.

I like to keep rose remedies on hand to share with friends going through painful transitions or experiencing loss, as well as for soothing our own bumps in the road of life. Rose is also an ally for soothing inflammation and reducing pain.

Wild Rose Remedies: five simple recipes to make at home.

I spent much of the week making five different types of rose medicine. Sage also dried some petals for culinary use, and Lupine infused a jar of honey for a friend with her harvest.

I wanted to share some recipes and a quick how-to with you, incase your neighborhood, too, is overrun with these fleeting beauties.

Field ID

To identify roses in the wild, you will observe stem, leaf, habitat and flowers.

Wild roses bear curved thorns along their woody stems, and toothed, compound leaves. They grow in pastures, along country lanes, and at the edges of forests.

Blooms vary by species. I will focus on the two species found in my region. There are many wild rose species throughout the world, so ID yours, and use that instead if you don’t have the same type as me.

Wild Rose Remedies: five simple recipes to make at home.

Rosa carolina

Here in Wisconsin (and throughout much of the US) you will find mainly two species of wild rose. One is native and one is invasive.

The native wild rose in my region most commonly found (pictured with larger pink blooms, above) is Rosa carolina, or Carolina rose. Single blooms bear five petals each and the flower center is dominated by a large cluster of yellow stamens.

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Rosa multiflora

The second species is invasive Rosa multiflora, or multiflora rose.

Also bearing five petals (these white and frequently heart-shaped) around a center of yellow stamens.

Multiflora rose (along other fun transplants like house sparrows, wild parsnip, Asian beetles, and Japanese honeysuckle) is a distinctly human problems. Like so many invasive species, it was touted as a solution to our many problems and a pretty one at that. It was intentionally introduced, passionately promoted, and then promptly got out of our control.

There is a strip through the central US (from the Dakotas in the north, angling southward to Arizona) where this species has yet to gain ground; otherwise you can find it from coast to coast.

For so many reasons, I’ve always been partial to the native sort, and have had a bias against the invasive for as long as I can remember.

Because: it’s invasive. What could I possibly love about an invasive? (Remember, I was a naturalist before I was an herbalist.)

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But plants, of course, have so much to teach us.

And I realized at last that an invasive species is not an bad or evil plant; it is simply a plant out of place, doing it’s best to survive. And it’s doing it well.

So slowly, unconsciously, I began to shift my bias. Instead of seeing the multiflora as an invasive and rolling my eyes at these hillsides of delicate, fragrant blooms, I took a step back and viewed it–for the moment–as simply a rose.

And that, of course, changed everything.

And with that in mind, I spent the week making rose medicine from both our native and non-native roses. Because of the abundance of multiflora rose, I focused primarily on them, but we did two special projects with the native roses as well.

Wild Rose Remedies: five simple recipes to make at home.

Making rose medicine

Below, I share how to make five of my favorite rose remedies (rose petal honey, rose elixir, rose tincture, rose oxymel). I also made wild rose flower essence, but that’s its own creature that I can go into in a separate post if you are interested. (If so, please let me know.) Choose one or more to make yourself to have on hand when you or your loved ones might need it.

The general process outlined below applies to all of the other remedies. Always work with roses that are free of surface moisture. 

1. Harvest roses

There are two different methods for harvest wild roses: picking flower clusters or picking petals. The method you choose will vary by the way you intend to use your roses.

Whichever method you use, always pick in the morning on a dry day, after the dew has dried on the flowers. (However tempting, wet flowers do not make good remedies, as the resulting medicine is prone to spoilage.) Only pick from areas free of car traffic (50 feet from roadways), pollution, chemical sprays, and pet waste. Never make remedies with purchased, conventional roses.

Wild Rose Remedies: five simple recipes to make at home.Wild Rose Remedies: five simple recipes to make at home.Wild Rose Remedies: five simple recipes to make at home.

Flower clusters are chosen when you are infusing the medicinal qualities of the rose, then straining.

To forage flower clusters, use a hand-held pruner to gently clip the entire flower cluster (with a leaf or two now and then). Place the flowers, stems, leaves and all a tight-weave basket.

20180611-DSC_2874Wild Rose Remedies: five simple recipes to make at home.Wild Rose Remedies: five simple recipes to make at home.

Flower petals are harvested when the rose itself will be consumed or when you want to avoid the woody qualities: say in baked goods, infused honey, or tea.

To harvest the petals, gently grasp the flower head (for the native rose) or flower cluster (for multiflora rose) and pull. The petals will easily slip off, leaving the center of the flower behind. Drop these into a very tightly woven basket to keep them from escaping.

2. Clean your harvest

Back home, pick through your harvest and gently remove and release any interlopers. Pick out and discard any dirt or debris or really questionable flowers or petals.

Never rinse or wash your harvest, as it will introduce too much moisture and your remedies will easily spoil. (Plus you will wash away much of the fragrant essence of the flowers.)

Wild Rose Remedies: five simple recipes to make at home.

3. Make your remedies!

Now it’s time to make some medicine and treats. Below you will find basic instructions for rose petal honey, and three other rose remedies.

Wild Rose Remedies: five simple recipes to make at home.Wild Rose Remedies: five simple recipes to make at home.

Rose Petal Honey

The flavor of this rose petal honey is ethereal. Make enough to last the year, to stir into warm milk or almond milk, or enjoy straight off of the spoon. Useful to treat first degree burns as well – apply the honey directly to the cooled burn.

Using: petals only.

Instructions

  1. Loosely fill a glass jar of your choice to the top with freshly foraged rose petals. Do not pack tightly, but fill it so it’s fluffy and loose.
  2. Cover with raw honey.
  3. Stir wit a knife to release air bubbles and top off with more honey.
  4. Allow to infuse for 4 days to one week, inverting or gently stirring daily, and enjoy by the spoonful, in tea or warm milk, or on toast (No need to strain, as the petals are very soft.)
  5. Store finished honey in the refrigerator for up to 1 year.

Wild Rose Remedies: five simple recipes to make at home.

Rose Elixir

I love elixirs. One part tincture, and one part infused honey, the bring the best of both to the table. Tasty yet potent, elixirs are easy to love. Useful for healing conditions of the heart.

Using: whole blossoms with a few leaves.

Instructions

  1. Without removing the stems or leaves, coarsely chop your blossoms. (I have done this with both a sharp kitchen knife and a strong food processor, so choose your whichever method suits you.)
  2. Fill a clean, dry jar 3/4 full of the loosely packed chopped blossoms. Pour in brandy or other 80+ proof alcohol (a mild tasting alcohol is strongly preferred!) until the jar is 3/4 full. Add honey to fill to the shoulders.
  3. Lid with a nonreactive lid, or line your regular canning jar lid with a piece of waxed paper or a plastic bag. Label with remedy type and date and gently shake.
  4. Place in a cool, dark place, and shake daily (or as often as you think of it) for 6 weeks to 6 months.
  5. When ready to strain, pour through a fine mesh strainer, then press to extract as much goodness as you can from the roses.
  6. Transfer strained remedy to a clean, glass, labeled jar. Stored in a cool, dark place, elixirs will keep for at least 1 year.

Wild Rose Remedies: five simple recipes to make at home.

Rose Tincture

Tinctures are powerful remedies. Take by the drop as needed when working through acute trauma, like you would rescue remedy.

Using: whole blossoms with a few leaves

Instructions

  1. Process your roses and fill jar as above. Pour in brandy or other 80+ proof alcohol (a mild tasting alcohol is strongly preferred!) until the jar is full to the shoulders.
  2. Lid with a nonreactive lid, or line your regular canning jar lid with a piece of waxed paper or a plastic bag. Label with remedy type and date and gently shake.
  3. Place in a cool, dark place, and shake daily (or as often as you think of it) for 6 weeks to 6 months.
  4. When ready to strain, pour through a fine mesh strainer, then press to extract as much goodness as you can from the roses.
  5. Transfer strained remedy to a clean, glass, labeled jar. Stored in a cool, dark place, tinctures will keep for at least 2 years, and in some cases indefinitely.

Wild Rose Remedies: five simple recipes to make at home.

Rose Oxymel

We love oxymels. This sweet-and-sour mixture of vinegar and honey infuses different properties of the plant than a tincture or honey, and we love having the variety on hand. It’s also a nice alternative to the elixir for those who prefer alcohol-free remedies. Take by the spoonful or stir into water or carbonated water.

Using: whole blossoms with a few leaves

Instructions

  1. Process your roses and fill jar as above. Pour in raw, organic apple cider vinegar until the jar is 3/4 full. Add honey to fill to the shoulders.
  2. Lid with a nonreactive lid, or line your regular canning jar lid with a piece of waxed paper or a plastic bag. Label with remedy type and date and gently shake.
  3. Place in a cool, dark place, and shake daily (or as often as you think of it) for 6 weeks.
  4. When ready to strain, pour through a fine mesh strainer, then press to extract as much goodness as you can from the roses.
  5. Transfer strained remedy to a clean, glass, labeled jar. Stored in the refrigerator, oxymels will keep for at least 1 year.

 

What is your favorite wild rose remedy?

 

Wild Rose Remedies: five simple recipes to make at home.

3 thoughts on “Four recipes for homemade rose remedies

  1. Sal says:

    Can’t wait to try these! Roses (native, non native and the invasive multi flora) are in full bloom here on the east coast of Canada. Please do share your method for rose essence too!

  2. Lotta says:

    Reading about your change of heart towards invasive roses, I’m reminded of the permaculture principle: the problem is the solution…
    Thank you for sharing these lovely remedies Rachel, I’d be really interested in the flower essence too.

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