Flower Waters

July 10, 2014 by  
Filed under Food

This article was written by Samuel Phineas Upham

Cooks in the Middle East were trying out something interesting during the 3rd and 4th centuries, AD. The Ancient Greeks and Romans had both perfected the art of distilling fragrance from rose petals by steeping them in water, but they were not using the extract for flavoring.

The practice of using extracts in this fashion was already well-known. Cooks had been using vanilla to flavor their foods for some time. Rose water seemed like an extension of that. The water was sprinkled over food to add fragrance and taste, but it was also used in pots and pans to coat the cooking surface.

During the Crusades, Christian crusaders found it and brought it back to Medieval England. The Turks were using the flavoring extensively, and they introduced it to Bulgaria. Bulgaria’s famed Valley of Roses at Kazanluk is still famous for its mass production of rose water, rose oil and preserves.

From the Arabs and Europeans, rose water travelled across the pond until it found a home in American cuisine. The Americans, at first, had limited applications for the substance. It was primarily found in a candy called “Turkish Delight.” Colonial Americans used rose water to flavor their dishes, like chicken pies and creamed spinach.

The Shakers also produced rose water as a product to be sold as “Double Distilled Damask Rose Water,” and it was used extensively in their apple pie with rose. Today, rose water and orange blossom water are still in use, especially in desserts like baklava. However, rose water is used interchangeably with orange blossoms.

About the Author: Samuel Phineas Upham is an investor at a family office/hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Samuel Phineas Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media & Technology group. You may contact Samuel Phineas Upham on his Facebook page.


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