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When I was in middle school, before I was allowed to wear real makeup, I had to make due with cherry ChapStick, bronze-tinted body lotion, and rose water for perfume. While I longed for real lipstick, blush, and mascara, I actually loved the rose water. It smelled clean and fresh—less like a bouquet of store-bought roses than a walk through a dewy garden. Years later, I still keep a bottle of rose water on hand, but these days I use it mostly for cooking.
Made from distilled rose petals, rose water has a distinctive floral flavor. It is a common ingredient in many countries, including Turkey, Iran, India, and France. While it looks innocent enough in the bottle, it packs a serious punch and a little goes a long way. It can be used in both savory and sweet dishes, but I especially love it paired with spring produce like berries and rhubarb.
To make this easy jam, I simmered a pot of chopped rhubarb until it began to break down, then stirred in lemon juice, rose water, sugar, and a bit of all-natural pectin to ensure everything jelled nicely. If your rhubarb is on the paler side, feel free to add one to two drops of red food coloring to get that nice rosy hue.
This is the perfect jam for a spring tea party. The delicate, elegant flavor is a natural match for croissants or tender butter scones. To give it as a gift, pair with a bouquet of fresh wild flowers or a box of your favorite tea.
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About the Author: Lucy Baker is a food writer and the author of The Boozy Baker: 75 Recipes for Spirited Sweets. She is currently at work on a second book about homemade food gifts. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and dachshund.