"Dulce" is the general Ladino word for jams, preserves and jellied fruit. Sephardi Jewish cuisine is known for its wide variety of dulces, including those made from quince, watermelon rind, eggplant, figs and more. The taste and aroma of these preserves is subtle.
Silver Spring resident Isaac Benatar recommends picking organically grown rose petals early in the morning, when they are crisp. If you buy roses, make sure they have not been treated with pesticides.
Rose water is available in natural foods stores and in Middle Eastern markets, such as Yekta in Rockville. For suggestions about its other uses, see the NOTE below.
You'll need a candy thermometer.
Make Ahead: The preserves have a shelf life of about 1 year (unopened), and 6 months, opened and refrigerated.
Servings: 1.5 - 2 2 half-pints
- 3 cups organically grown red or deep-pink rose petals, gently pressed and thick base cut away (from 3 large flower heads)
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 tablespoons honey (preferably orange blossom honey)
- Freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon (3 to 4 tablespoons)
- 1 teaspoon rose water, or to taste (see NOTE)
Place a rack or a small towel in the bottom of a large, deep saucepan. Fill with water and heat over medium heat, making sure the water does not come to a boil. Carefully add the 2 half-pint jars and let them heat up for a few minutes. Turn off the heat, leaving them in the water until you are ready to use them.
Soak new jar lids and rings in a saucepan of hot, but not boiling, water, leaving them in the water until you are ready to use them.
Meanwhile, place the rose petals in a colander and rinse well under cool running water.
Bring the 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the rose petals and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until tender. Strain the liquid through the colander into a bowl (to reserve the cooking liquid), pressing on the petals to squeeze out excess moisture. Reserve the petals.
Combine 1 cup of the strained liquid with the sugar and honey in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring until the sugar and honey are well incorporated. Discard any reserved cooking liquid, or reserve it for another use.
Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat; cook until it registers 235 degrees on a candy thermometer. Add the rose petals, reduce the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes, stirring carefully as needed.
Stir in the lemon juice and cook for 5 minutes, then stir in the rose water and remove the saucepan from the heat.
Drain the jars and place upright on the counter. Immediately transfer the hot mixture into the jars and seal immediately, gently tightening the rings.
Place the filled jars in the stockpot. If needed, add enough water to cover the jars by at least an inch or so. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Process the jars for 10 minutes, starting a timer once the water reaches a boil. Turn off the heat and leave the jars in the water for a few minutes. Remove the jars from the water and let cool completely. Check to make sure the rings are not on too tight before storing. The preserves can be eaten right away, but develop fuller flavor after a day or two.
NOTE: Add rose water, sparingly, to cocktails, rice puddings, cake and muffin batters, and fruit pie fillings. Non-cooking uses: as a skin toner, hand softener, aromatic additive to bath water, lotions, facial masks, and massage oils.
Adapted from a recipe by Benatar, of Silver Spring.
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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