I’m going to take the opportunity that this late bloom of Bishop’s Castle provided to present an old world recipe for Rose Petal Sherbet. This delicacy is highly praised by people who dwell around the Mediterranean, since it is a traditional middle-eastern treat that shares its popularity with the Turkish delights and the almond halva. A spoonful of sherbet in a glass of ice water is the way to serve it to guests, especially in summer, when it provides well needed refreshment. If you want to make it special, make sure that the presentation (a silver spoon and a crystal glass) matches the sophistication of the confection, but it would work without it too, because it is delicious. All rose preserves, including this sherbet, should be made of very fragrant Centifolia roses such as this one or Gertrude Jekyll.
Rose Petal Sherbet:
1/2 lb of rose petals
2/3 gallon of water
2 lbs of sugar
the juice of one lemon
Put the rose petals in a salad spinner and spin them a few times to remove the pollen that might be attached to them. Boil them with the water until the mixture reduces to about a half. Set aside and let it cool down. Strain through a thick clean cheese cloth or a coffee filter.
Simmer three cups of this clarified liquid with the sugar on low heat until it all the sugar melts and then turn up the heat. Try the sherbet periodically to see if it achieved the needed consistency. The way to do this is to drop a few droplets in a glass of cold water; if they don’t lose their shape and can be picked up with your fingers the sherbet has boiled enough. Remove the pot from the heat when trying the sherbet. As with any sugar confections, the mixture can very quickly thicken beyond the required consistency and become tough and unmanageable. While it’s still boiling, set aside two teaspoons of syrup and mix them with the lemon juice.
Set the pot aside, cover it with a wet cheesecloth and let it cool down just enough that it can be handled. Hold the pot down on a towel so that it doesn’t move and start stirring very quickly with a wooden spoon until it changes its color and starts looking like pink meringue. When it starts changing color add the lemon juice and syrup mix little by little and knead with your hands until it becomes a fondant paste of uniform consistency. The lemon juice should enhance the color to a beautiful rose pink. Put the sherbet inside clean dry glass jars and press down to eliminate air bubbles.