As picturesque as these photographs appear, this recipe was an absolute nightmare (although picking rose petals for rose is quite a pretty business in practice). It was my first time making jam and in retrospect, rose was quite an irresponsible choice. Why? Because pectin. Or lack there of. And science... cooking is founded in science and can be broken down into molecular interactions. Making Jam is all a question of balancing fruit pectin, sugar, and an acid. It is far closer to making caramel in fact and thinking in such terms can be a help. Normally to make jam, you boil down the fruit, add sugar, lemon, and a sachet or two of pectin and let it bubble until the mixture reduces and thickens like a caramel.
I read all the online recipes and blog tips and boiled the petals in water and sugar and added a ton of pectin. I thought I had succeeded, sterilised the jars and stored the rose jam. I won't go into all the messy details, but I was quite wrong. This recipe endured 6 months of reopening, reboiling, re-sterilizing, adding more pectin, again and again in my quest to get the right consistency. I wouldn't give up. I used up every last rose of the autumn to make this jam and I wouldn't let it go to waste. Each time, I found myself with runny rose syrup rather than the thick jellied confiture you find in gourmet shops around France.
The reason for all this hell... while other fruits like abricots, strawberries, and rose hips naturally have pectin and therefore require only a small amount more (some jam purists don't believe in pectin at all in fact and rely strictly on the natural source) rose petals, however, have none. I needed to account for more pectin, sugar, and boiling time than any recipe I could find advised. I am convinced that these rose jam makers are withholding something... But success in all the jams I have tried since, have required more pectin and boiling time than most recipes advice. And I found that adding a few cups of strawberries or raspberries to the syrup after separating the petals creates a much more stable jam and adds another layer of flavour that is needed to fill the space between the lightness of the role and intensity of the sugar.
350 grams sugar
100 g of petals (pesticide-free)
15 grams pectin (agar-agar)
2 litres water
*2-3 cups strawberries/raspberries (optional)
HOW TO TEST IF JAM IS FINISHED
Place a cold spoon in the freezer. Drop a small amount of jam liquid onto spoon and place in freezer for a few seconds. If the liquid begins to thicken, it is ready. If it is still too runny, continue boiling and reducing and seal again.