Every Bite is Coming Up Roses

rose petals in a jar on a plate

If you have access to roses that don’t get sprayed with pesticides, they can be a fragrant and fun addition to your summer meals. If you don’t have a rose garden, try your local health food store, which may sell dried rosebuds for use in tea. Be sure to get food-grade flowers.

Adding flowers to a dish gives you more fragrance, visual appeal, and flavor. It also means you can cut back on ingredients like salt, which raises blood pressure and harms your heart and kidneys.

Candied rose petals cost almost $100 a pound, but you can make them easily and inexpensively. They’ll bring back the summer sun on a cold November day when you use them to decorate cakes or cupcakes.

Fresh rose petals are a great complement to the sour taste of rhubarb. Try rhubarb and rose petal jam for a treat. A jar of ready-made jam can cost more than $8, but you can make it for far less.

For a fun appetizer, make candied nuts and add rose petals. Fresh berries also provide a great flavor combination with the sweet scent of roses. For an elegant end to a meal, try sprinkling berries and rose petals over Pavlova, a meringue dessert that is much lower in sodium than shortcake.

Sprinkle rose petals over goat cheese for a pretty and quick appetizer. Serve with low-sodium crackers or toss in a salad with savory veggies.

Rhubarb Rose Petal Jam

6½ cups sugar
1 cup water
4 ounces pink or red edible rose petals (6 cups)
2½ pounds fresh rhubarb, coarsely chopped
¼ teaspoon butter
1 envelope liquid pectin
2 tablespoons rosewater (optional)
1 teaspoon powdered ginger or cardamom (optional)

Note: If you use powdered pectin, add it with fruit, and then add sugar last. If you use liquid pectin, sugar goes in with the fruit, and the liquid pectin is added last. Follow directions on the package.

In a large pot at least twice the size of your ingredients, add rhubarb and water and bring to boil on high heat. After rhubarb is stewed, remove from heat. Keep 4½ cups of the rhubarb mixture in the pot. Add sugar and butter, and then bring to a rolling boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Add pectin and rose petals. Return to a rolling boil and boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. If the mixture doesn’t smell floral enough for you, add rosewater and stir.

Refrigerate and use within a month, or follow the regular procedures for canning or freeze. Makes about 6 half-pint jars.

Nutritional Information (per serving)
Calories: 28, Carbohydrates: 7 grams, Protein: 0 grams, Sodium: 0 milligrams

Berry and Rose Petal Pavlova

4 egg whites
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups fresh berries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Beat egg whites in a large bowl with an electric mixer on high, until stiff peaks form. Slowly add sugar and beat for 4 to 5 minutes or until the mixture is stiff and glossy. Sprinkle vinegar, vanilla, and cornstarch over the egg whites and beat until well blended.

Spoon 8 piles of egg white mixture onto a baking sheet. Use a spoon to make each into a nest-shaped, shallow bowl, with the outside edges higher than the middle. Place in oven and reduce temperature to 200 degrees. Bake for 1 hour. Turn off heat and leave the baked meringue to cool in the oven with the door slightly open for at least 1 hour. Place meringue bowls on a serving plate. Combine whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla, and then beat until stiff peaks form. Fill the cooled meringue bowls with whipped cream, top with fruit and sprinkle with rose petals.

Nutritional Information (per serving)
Calories: 211, Carbohydrates: 26 grams, Protein: 3 grams, Sodium: 39 milligrams

Candied Rose Petals

1 beaten egg white, or pasteurized egg white
Superfine sugar (sometimes called castor sugar)
Rose petals or other edible flowers (pansies, lilac, borage, mint, sage, or tarragon leaves)

Use a small brush or cotton swab to paint egg white on front and back of the petals. Put sugar in a shaker; an old spice bottle works well. Lay flowers on wax paper and lightly shake the sugar on them. Turn them over and do the same on the back. Let sit an hour or two, and then store in an airtight container. These keep for about a year.

Candied Nuts

1–1½ cups nuts (walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts)
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon water
¼-½ cup rose petals, sliced in thin strips

Sauté nuts and sugar in a pan, stirring constantly to avoid burning. Sugar will liquefy. Keep stirring until nuts turn light amber in color. Remove from heat. Add rose petals. Quickly place on wax or parchment paper and spread them apart so they don’t touch. If desired, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar or paprika, for a sweet hot kick.

Nutritional Information (per one ounce serving)
Calories: 171, Carbohydrates: 10 grams, Protein: 6 grams, Sodium: 0 milligrams

Contributor Katy Wilkens is a registered dietitian and department head at Northwest Kidney Centers. The National Kidney Foundation Council on Renal Nutrition has honored her with its highest awards: the Susan Knapp Excellence in Education Award and the Joel D. Kopple Award for significant contributions in renal nutrition. See more recipes at

This article originally appeared in AgeWise King County (July 2019).