Recipe and photography by Lily Diamond
Imagine the intoxicating aroma of lokelani rose—Maui’s official flower—at your fingertips, year- round. Simply harvest fresh, unsprayed roses at their peak and preserve their fragrance with this easy steam distillation process. Use rosewater in a spray bottle for a spritz throughout the day, as a flavor boost in juices, lattes, desserts, and savory dishes, or in DIY face cleansers, scrubs, masks, and toners.
For more ideas, find inspiration and recipes in the Rose chapter of my memoir cookbook Kale & Caramel: Recipes for Body, Heart, and Table (Atria, $22) and online at kaleandcaramel.com.
8 cups lightly packed fresh, fragrant rose petals
5 cups water
8-10 cups ice, as needed
Select a large stockpot with a lid that has a knob you can unscrew. You will invert the lid so the steam can drip down the middle, hence removing the knob.
Pluck the rose petals and place them in the stock pot. Create some space in the center of the pot and place a large canning lid screw band ring in the middle. Place a small bowl on top of the screw band ring. The bowl will catch the rosewater as it drips from the inverted lid.
Pour ~5 cups of water into the bottom of the pot, or enough to reach halfway up the petals.
On the stove, cover the pot with the inverted lid and fill the top with ice cubes. Turn heat to medium, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low.
As the ice melts, use a ladle to scoop the water from the lid, discard, and add more ice cubes. Continue for 20 minutes or so, until most of the water around the base of the petals is gone.
Remove from heat and pour the distilled rosewater from the small bowl into a glass jar to cool.
Once the rosewater is room temperature, seal, and store in the fridge to preserve.