Wild Alaska rose syrup with Natasha (with cocktail recipe!)


By Natasha Price of Alaska Knit Nat

Last year I started a blog series called “Harvesting Anchorage” where I tried to gather and cook at least one wild Alaska food each month. From birch syrup to spruce tips, I gave it my all and to be honest, most of it was either too laborious or mediocre.

The exception was wild rose syrup. Frolic through the forest in June and collect a few jars of wild rose petals. Rinse, boil, strain and bottle. An added bonus is the natural perfume that fills your house as you’re simmering the syrup. It’s absolutely heavenly.

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Make your rose syrup even more magical by using fancy bottles. I found some on sale at Michaels for $2 apiece and I searched Bishop’s Attic for an assortment of pretty, unusual jars.

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Use your syrup in tea or baked goods. I love to recreate South Restaurant and Coffeehouse’s rose latte at home by adding a glug of it to my morning coffee.

My favorite way to enjoy this fairy-like nectar is with some gin and soda. See below for a Rose Collins recipe.

Wild rose syrup

Makes about a quart

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Ingredients:

  • 6 cups fresh wild rose petals
  • 5 cups sugar
  • 1 quart plus 1 cup of water
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Directions:

Set out on a fine June day and pick your petals. Wear close-toed shoes and preferably long pants as there are bound to be spiders.

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Fill the sink with cold water and pour in the petals. Stir them around and let the bugs and debris settle. Spin the petals dry in a salad spinner and place in a medium mixing bowl. Add 3/4 cup of sugar and muddle the petals with a potato masher.

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Place the pulpy petals in a sealable container overnight. Before cleaning the mixing bowl, scoop out remaining sugar gloop and exfoliate your hands. It’s lovely.

The next day, bring the water to a boil. Add the remaining sugar till dissolved. Toss in the petals and any pulp, lemon juice and salt and simmer on low until the color has been extracted from the petals. There’s no science to this. I think I simmered mine for 30 minutes. The liquid should look bright pink.

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Turn off the heat and let the syrup cool. Using a mesh strainer lined with a clean linen dishcloth, ladle the syrup into a pitcher, pressing on the petals and tossing them as you go.

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Pour into sanitized jars or bottles. Keep refrigerated. Keeps for several months.

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Rose collins

  • 2 oz. gin
  • 1.5 oz. rose syrup
  • 2 oz. lemon juice
  • Club soda

Fill a tall glass with ice. Pour in the gin, syrup and lemon juice. Stir and top off with club soda. Enjoy!

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Julia O’Malley is a journalist who lives in Anchorage. She writes about culture, family, home, the environment and food in Alaska.

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