If you love the smell of roses, you’ll love the taste of this fermented rose flower cordial. This simple recipe can be used as-is or to make refreshing non-alcoholic or alcoholic beverages alike.
In our article, Stop and eat the roses: how to select and use edible roses in your garden we detail the many virtues of edible roses. We also detail our top recommended edible rose varieties.
We grow our rose plants organically, and the most robust variety we grow is a David Austin variety named ‘Cardinal de Richelieu’ which likely has a pretty interesting history (more on that in a minute). It’s also the variety we used to make the vibrantly colored fermented rose cordial featured in this recipe article.
Likewise, to make this recipe, we recommend using highly fragrant and colorful rose varieties. The more fragrant the rose, the better your finished fermented rose cordial will taste. The color of the roses you use will also transfer into the color of the finished drink.
We’ve made this fermented rose flower cordial recipe with our native wild white roses to get a clear final drink as well as our vibrant purple ‘Cardinal de Richelieu’ rose which yields a vibrant red-pink drink.
The ‘Cardinal de Richelieu’ rose
David Austin is a famed English rose breeder who died in 2018, leaving behind quite a legacy in the rose breeding world. On the European David Austin website, there’s a brief note on the Cardinal de Richelieu description which reads, “Parmentier, 1847.”
We might have missed this note were it not for our fellow plant nerd friend, Eliza Holcombe. Turns out “Parmentier” refers to Louis Joseph Ghislain Parmentier (1742-1847) a well-known Belgium botanist and rose breeder. 1847, the year the rose was bred, was the last year of Parmentier’s life, and perhaps his final gift to the world of roses and those who love them.
Why did Parmentier name this rose variety ‘Cardinal Richelieu’? Our guess: it was named in honor of Armand Jean du Plessis, Duke of Richelieu (1585-1642), who became a Cardinal in the Catholic Church in 1622. Cardinal Richelieu’s official, red/purple-colored robes also earned him the moniker “the Red Eminence.”
In addition to being the inspiration for the villain in The Three Musketeers novel, Richelieu also invented the table knife. This invention improved table manners and also (apparently) reduced the occurrence of deadly mealtime battles, since blunt, dull table knives soon replaced sharp knives at tables around Europe. Who knew!?
It also appears that Richelieu’s colorful robes inspired the Belgium rose breeder, Louis Parmentier, to name his final, gorgeous red/purple rose in the Cardinal’s honor!
And here we are all these years later sleuthing out all this information over a delicious rose drink!
Back to the fermented rose cordial…
Ok, history lesson over. Let’s get back to making this delicious drink and go over some important tips:
1. Use organically grown roses.
In addition to using highly fragrant and colorful roses, we’d encourage you to also use organically grown roses, e.g. rose plants that have not had synthetic pesticides applied to them.
While it might be difficult to source organically grown roses, you can grow them organically once you get them.
2. Use the whole flower head.
When harvesting rose flowers for this recipe, snip the entire head from the plant with pruners or sharp kitchen scissors.
You’ll use the entire flower head in this recipe. Easy peasy, no post-harvest processing required.
3. Trust in the power of fermentation.
Don’t rinse or clean your rose flowers after harvesting them. They’re covered in native, beneficial yeasts and lactic acid bacteria (LAB) that are essential to make your fermentation.
We’ve made fermented flower cordials hundreds of times with every wild edible flower imaginable and have never had a batch turn bad or unpleasant. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to use this recipe with other edible flowers as well.
In this recipe, the beneficial microbes on your flowers help to extract that one-of-a-kind rose flavor and also give the drink a bubbly, effervescent quality. When done, you’ll have created a probiotic, rose-flavored, rose-colored natural soda that is so delicious, you’ll be shocked.
Just follow the instructions in our recipe (bottom of article) to get it just right!
4. Use your finished fermented rose petals!
Once your fermentation is complete, you’ll strain out your rose petals. Do not toss these into your compost because they’re still beautiful and full of flavor.
One option: store them in the fridge and eat them as sweet pickled rose blossoms. They’re perfectly delicious that way.
Another option (what we did): dry them and turn them into a fermented rose powder, that you can use to rim glasses (like the photos in this article) or sprinkle on desserts, milk kefir, or other dishes.
Here’s how to make your own fermented rose blossom powder:
Next, you’ll need to dry out the rose petals. The easiest way to do this is with a food dehydrator. (We use and highly recommend an Excalibur dehydrator.)
Once your fermented rose blossoms are dried, it’s time to turn them into a powder. A standard blender will do an ok job, but we highly recommend getting a spice grinder to achieve a fine powder. (We use a Cuisinart SG-10 spice grinder.)
Store your rose blossom powder in an airtight jar or small spice jar until you’re ready to use it!
5. How to rim your glass with fermented rose petal powder
Now that you’ve got your fermented rose petal powder made, it’s time to use it on the rim of your glass!
Here’s a quick rundown of how we rim our glasses with fermented rose petal powder:
One rose recipe – or infinite recipes? You decide.
We consider this fermented rose cordial to be a base recipe. Yes, you can and should drink it by itself. But you can also use it to make other drinks.
For instance, our toddler LOVES his “rose juice,” but we like to dilute it down a bit for him. Thus, we mix it 50:50 with plain sparkling water.
The Tyrant likes to mix hers into an adult beverage with a quality botanical gin (like Uncle Val’s), sparkling water, and Meyer lemon juice to taste.
How will you use your fermented rose cordial? Let us know!
Recipe: Fermented rose flower cordial
Fermented rose flower cordial
The smell of roses captured in an effervescent probiotic drink. This simple fermented rose flower cordial can be made in under two weeks.
- 1 cup whole rose flowers, unwashed
- 1 cup organic cane sugar
- 2 cups water
- 1/5 cup lemon juice (or 1 Tbsp citric acid)
- *These are ingredient ratios, so scale up quantity of other ingredients based on quantity of rose flowers you have available.
Place sugar, citric acid (or lemon juice), and lukewarm water in glass jar (not plastic) then stir until sugar is dissolved. Add rose flowers. Place jar out of the sun in cool indoor environment not warmer than about 71°F. Affix breathable cover (linen cloth or paper towel work well) over top of container with rubber band or string.
Stir mixture vigorously at least twice daily, once in the morning, once at night.
Once you start noticing bubbles, that means the yeasts and lactic acid bacteria are proliferating. At this point, you can begin doing small daily taste tests so you can get a sense of how the fermentation is developing. At first, it will be very sweet. The microbes eat the sugar and the drink becomes less sweet over time, plus nuanced flavors develop.
~14 days is probably the longest you'll want to let your rose ferment go. We strained ours at the end of Day 11, but expect some variation depending on your flavor preferences and/or robustness of your local yeasts. Strain out flowers and place finished ferment in jars in airtight jars in your FRIDGE. The cold temperature arrests fermentation/microbial activity. Do NOT store in airtight jars at room temp or your jars will explode.
Begin drinking immediately as-is or use as a base in mixed drinks. The ferment will continue to slowly "dry" (e.g. lose sweetness and sugar content) the longer they're in the fridge. They're best consumed within 3-6 months but we've drank them 1-2 years later and they're still excellent, albeit far less sweet!
Flower power! Other delicious articles you’ll love:
- Stop and eat the roses: how to select and use edible roses in your garden
- 16 incredible edible wild flowers
- Yes, wisteria flowers are edible and they make delicious drinks
- Hibiscus sabdariffa: a tasty addition to your garden or edible landscape
- Recipe: Elderflower kombucha
- Recipe: Golden raspberry, elderflower, and honey fermented cordial
- Recipe: Spring flower salad with hemlock tree bud-honey dressing
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RenaApril 13, 2023 at 3:00 pm
I’d love to try this recipe. Can you describe the taste a bit to me?
Susan von FrankApril 13, 2023 at 9:47 pm
Hi Rena! This rose flower cordial recipe is like drinking all the wonderful scents of a rose.
DimitrisMarch 15, 2023 at 12:15 pm
hi i want to ask is it a lacto fermented process or a alcoholic fermentation because i think that in lacto we want a salt environment
Aaron von FrankMarch 15, 2023 at 3:05 pm
Hi Dimitris! Yes, this fermented rose flower cordial recipe falls more into the alcohol fermentation category rather than the lacto fermentation category since no salt is involved. However, lactic acid bacteria (LAB) are still very much a part of alcoholic fermentation, especially so in “wild ferments” like this one. Obviously, yeasts are critical to the process as well; it’s kind of one-two punch. The end product in this case is VERY low alcohol though. Here’s a good summary research article on the topic, titled “Lactic Acid Bacteria in Wine: Technological Advances and Evaluation of Their Functional Role” – https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmicb.2020.612118/full
HeatherNovember 26, 2022 at 11:08 pm
This was super easy and really delicious. I will be making this whenever I can get my hands on more roses!
Aaron von FrankNovember 27, 2022 at 7:34 am
Awesome! Glad you enjoyed your fermented rose flower cordial, Heather!
AmandaSeptember 21, 2022 at 5:50 pm
I so want to try this. Do you think it would work the same with wild roses? It’s difficult for me to grow large David Austin’s in my neck of Alaska even hardy varieties I have found seem to be magnets for the moose to mow over. But I have 3 acres covered in wild roses!
Aaron von FrankSeptember 22, 2022 at 7:22 am
Yes, this recipe works with any type of rose so long as it’s highly fragrant. Fragrance = flavor. We’ve made this cordial with highly fragrant wild white roses here and it was delicious, although the color obviously wasn’t as pretty (it was clear instead of vibrant pink/purple). So if your wild roses have that characteristic rose smell (the more intense the better), go for it!