Fragrant roses make a wonderful addition to your herbal tea mixes and other edible things. If you have purchased rose petals from an herbal supplier, you know that the cost can be prohibitive. Drying your own rose petals from your garden or that of a friend is easy. They are delicate, so handle your roses carefully from start to finish.
A word of caution: do not use the roses you buy from the florist, as they have likely been treated with pesticides. No matter what your florist says, those roses are just for looking, never ingesting. If you want to dry florist rose petals, they should only be used for decorative purposes.
Harvesting Rose Petals
To begin, harvest your roses after the sun has dried the petals, but not if the roses are heated from the latter part of the day. Lay them in a single layer as you gather them. They can start to become mushy and break down in minutes if you make the mistake of placing them in a hot and dark place, like an herbal harvest bag.
Gently pile the rose petals in a loose pile if you must, but do not gather so many that they have to sit before you can process them. You will need to work quickly. Once you have enough of a harvest, pull the petals off and lay them without touching each other on an absorbent paper. A screen works very well, but remember that once dried, rose petals will blow around easily, so perhaps placing a second screen on top to carefully sandwich the petals would be best.
Always dry the rose petals in the shade, as the direct sun will quickly fade the petal color. You might want to place a second absorbent layer on your roses to keep them in the darkest environment possible. Fading can also become a problem if you store you finished teas in a glass jar near a window. The more faded they are, the less fragrance they produce, so it's important to keep your petals in a dark place.
Once the Petals Are Dried
Once dried, you can store your roses like any other dried herb, taking care that no light reaches the petals. If you are using a glass jar, keep it inside a dark cupboard. There are many ways you can use your dried rose petals.
Use your dried rose petals in herbal teas. Since they have little to no flavor after they are dried, adding roses to a tea mixture is just for visual pleasure. They should be added with a light hand and blended well.
You can make lovely ornaments with dried rose petals. Use them to coat Styrofoam balls that have been dipped in glue. These can be a nice addition to the holiday tree with a natural theme.
Place flattened petals between sheets of clear laminate and cut out bookmarks. These can be lovely small gifts or stocking stuffers.
Make rose petal soap to sell or give as gifts. Rose essential oil is often added for fragrance.
Herbal Sleep Pillows
Make herbal sleep pillows, which are small pouches filled with the rose petals and rose essential oil that can be placed inside the pillowcase of a favorite pillow.