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. I also always wonder what has happened to the roses before they were dried.
Because we abhor any insect damage in the garden, often roses are the most sprayed and treated plant that is grown in the landscape.
I just don't always trust that my packet of rose petals didn't have that sort of history.
Drying your own rose petals is super easy. They are delicate, to begin with, so handle your roses carefully from start to finish. I almost think they are a bit sturdier once they are crisply dried.
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. They can start to become mushy and break down in minutes, if placed in a hot/dark place, like an herbal harvest bag.
Gently pile them in a loose pile if you must, but do not gather so many that they have to sit before you can process them, and work quickly. Once you have enough of a harvest, pull the petals off and lay them without touching 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 to carefully sandwich the petals in would be best.
Always dry them in the shade, as the direct sun will quickly fade any color of the petals. I like to place a second absorbent layer on my roses to keep them in the darkest environment possible. I love the bright pop they give my herbal teas.
This fading can also become a problem if you store you finished teas in a glass jar near a window.
There is nothing that says "old", like half faded petals floating in your teacup. The more faded the less fragrance as well, 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. I pile mine tall olive jars with lids, then place those in the back of my pantry. To use, I simply sprinkle them onto my herbal tea and mix in. Since they little to no flavor after they are dried, adding roses to a tea mixture is just for visual pleasure in my opinion. They should be added with a light hand and blended well.
Use your dried rose petals in herbal teas, to coat Styrofoam balls that have been dipped in glue (these make lovely ornaments), place flattened petals between sheets of clear laminate and cut out bookmarks, the list of uses is endless.
A word of caution, do not use the roses you buy from the florist. They have been treated more than once to be able to sell them in perfect condition. No matter what your florist says, those roses are just for looking, never ingesting.