Gardening Recipes

Fermented rose flower cordial – the ultimate rose recipe

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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. 

There are numerous edible plants in this permaculture landscape. The vibrant purple flowers in the top left are the 'Cardinal de Richelieu' rose plant, which is also edible.

There are numerous edible plants in this permaculture landscape. The vibrant purple flowers in the top left are the ‘Cardinal de Richelieu’ rose, which is also edible.

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!

We dedicate this drink to Louis Parmentier (the rose breeder), Cardinal Richelieu (whose colorful robes may have inspired the naming of this rose variety), and to David Austin (whose breeding work helped preserve this treasured heirloom rose).

We hereby dedicate this fermented rose flower cordial recipe to Louis Parmentier (the rose breeder), Cardinal Richelieu (whose colorful robes may have inspired the naming of this rose variety in 1847), and to David Austin (whose breeding work helped preserve this treasured heirloom rose). 

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.   

Day 1: Whole rose flowers added to jar (with breathable cover) along with water, sugar, and citric acid. Day 7: Fermentation progressing and being maintained with twice per day stirrings to keep the microbes oxygenated. Day 11: We've already drank quite a bit along the way (ha) but you can see the nice fizzly bubbles forming which give the drink an effervescent quality. .

Day 1: Whole rose flowers added to jar (with breathable cover) along with water, sugar, and citric acid. Day 7: Fermentation progressing and being maintained with twice per day stirrings to keep the microbes oxygenated. Day 11: We’ve already drank quite a bit along the way (ha) but you can see the nice fizzy bubbles forming which give the drink an effervescent quality. .

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:

Left to right: 1. Strain out your blossoms. 2. Firmly squeeze out any remaining liquid. 3. Remove the blossoms from the bases (the bases can be composted or eaten, but they'll detract from the bright pink/purple color so should not be utilized).

Left to right: 1. Strain out your blossoms. 2. Firmly squeeze out any remaining liquid. 3. Remove the blossoms from the bases (the bases can be composted or eaten, but they’ll detract from the bright pink/purple color so should not be utilized).

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.) 

We wanted to see the difference between fermented vs fresh ‘Cardinal de Richelieu’ rose blossoms, so we dehydrated some of each. Left: Placed in dehydrator for ~30 hours on 100°F (38°C). Right: Dried rose blossoms.

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.)

Left: Fermented rose petals in spice grinder. Right: Fermented rose blossom powder vs fresh rose blossom powder from the same plant.

Left: Fermented rose petals in spice grinder. Right: Fermented rose blossom powder vs fresh rose blossom powder from the same plant.

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!

Fermented rose cordial served in a glass rimmed with fermented rose blossom powder.

Fermented rose cordial served in a glass rimmed with fermented rose blossom powder.

Here’s a quick rundown of how we rim our glasses with fermented rose petal powder: 

Top left: Run the rim of the glass through a small amount of honey on a plate. Bottom left: Run the now sticky glass rim through your rose powder/sugar/salt mix. Right: Done and ready to add a drink to the glass!

Top left: Run the rim of the glass through a small amount of honey on a plate. Bottom left: Run the now sticky glass rim through your rose powder/sugar/salt mix. Right: Done and ready to add a drink to the glass!

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; rose flower recipe; rose flower fermentation.

Fermented rose flower cordial recipe / Drink made with rose flowers / Rose fermentation
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Fermented rose flower cordial

Course: celebrations, Drinks, Health Drink / Syrup
Cuisine: American
Keyword: rose flower cordial, rose flower drink, rose flower fermentation
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Fermentation time: 12 days
Author: Aaron von Frank

The smell of roses captured in an effervescent probiotic drink. This simple fermented rose flower cordial can be made in under two weeks.

Ingredients

  • 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.

Instructions

  1. 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.

  2. Stir mixture vigorously at least twice daily, once in the morning, once at night.

  3. 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.

  4. ~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!

Enjoy! 

KIGI,

Tyrantfarms

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