Here in the cool Northwest we’re not yet fully into strawberry season, though I’ve tasted a few tiny, tender, perfumed Alexandrias. But the rugosa roses are putting forth a new crop of lovely pink blooms daily, and I feel driven to capture their scent in one way or another. A few days ago I did so with this syrup, made with last year’s strawberries from the freezer:
1½ pounds hulled strawberries
½ pound strong-scented pink or red rose petals
4 cups sugar
Juice of 1 to 2 lemons, to taste
Drop the strawberries into a large bowl, add the sugar, and crush the fruit with a potato masher. Add the rose petals and crush some more, until the mixture is more liquid than solid and much reduced in volume. Cover the bowl, and let the mixture rest for 12 to 24 hours.
Drain the syrup through a fine-meshed strainer. Stir and press the solids in the strainer to extract the remaining liquid.
Combine the syrup with the lemon juice in a nonreactive pot of at least 4 quarts’ capacity. Bring the syrup to a boil, and boil it for 1 minute.
If you’d like to store the syrup in the pantry, immediately pour it into pint or half-pint mason jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace. Add lids and rings, and process the jars for 10 minutes in a boiling-water bath. Alternatively, store the syrup in sterilized bottles in the refrigerator. I think it’s best to keep at least a little syrup in the fridge, so you can enjoy it while still smelling the perfume of strawberries and roses in your garden.
Makes 2 to 2½ pints
On a warm, sunny day, after a couple of hours of scything grass or other sweaty work, drop a few ice cubes into a tall glass. Add 2 to 4 tablespoons Strawberry-Rose Syrup (depending on the strength of your sweet tooth) and ¾ cup carbonated or plain cold water. Stir well, and then drink up the most refreshing treat imaginable.
If the day is coming to a close, you might forget the water and instead combine the syrup with chilled bubbly wine.