Monday, April 13, 2009

Rose Water

When I first met my husband back when we were college students more than thirty years ago, he introduced me to rose water. He would put just a drop of rose water in the pitcher of water he kept in the fridge and I thought it tasted just exquisite compared to plain old water!



Recently we traveled to Taif, Saudi Arabia, for a few days, where we visited a "Rose Water Factory," and I got to see how rose water is made. The plain building didn't look like much of a factory from the outside, however the smell of roses was definitely in the air!


Out back behind the building was their large rose garden. They use only the light pink roses of Taif to make the rose water.


When I entered the building, I saw dozens of distilling contraptions and the process was explained to me. The entire intact head of the rose was used at this factory, not just the petals. However no stems or leaves are used.


About a dozen large bags of rose heads were placed inside each large vat of boiling water. The roses are boiled, steamed, and steeped in the water. The steam from the rose water rises and condenses as it goes through a tube in a cooling tank.


The rose water drips slowly into an awaiting collection vessel.


The discarded leftover waste is placed out on the edge of the road in front of the factory for anyone to take for free. It can be used as mulch.


Each day each distilling set-up can produce two full large bottles of rose water, which is then poured into smaller bottles for sale.


Rose Water not only makes drinking water taste wonderful, it is also used in cosmetics and in food products, especially sweets, has some medical uses and also religious purposes.

45 comments:

  1. My sweet Susie, this is not only a lovely post but a very romantic one too! I can just imagine how this might have played a part in your courtship. Just lovely.

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  2. A truly insightful post; with bits of romantic sentiments involved. :) No doubt, a tinge of rose water in cold plain water is extremely refreshing on a scorching day.

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  3. This is so interesting!! I've never really had rose water...the thought of a drop in an ice cold pitcher of water is very intriguing... what a beautiful sight that must have been to see all of those roses in bloom! Thank you again, dear Susie, for educating me about something new! I love learning from you! ; )
    VB

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  4. I think I'll try that. I usually just add a lemon slice or something much less exotic.

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  5. Susie - thanks for a timely post...we'll be in both Taif and Jeddah in a few weeks and had put a rose water factory on our "must see" list!

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  6. Mmm...never had a drop of rose water in my water before, but I have had rice pudding made with rose water. It is one of my favourite things to eat whenever I go to an Indian restaurant! Interesting to see how rose water is made. Thanks Susie!

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  7. For the longest time it made me nausious if I could taste even a drop of rose water in my food or drink. Because when i was a teen I thought I'd see if rose petals were edible. LOL well it's like taking a bite of purfume is all I'll say about that and so from then on the taste made me gag. But recently I've had some candies with rose flavoring and I've foudn they help settle my stomach so Maybe I'm ready to try a bit of lightly done rose water. Might be refresshing now it's getting hot in UAE.

    LOL ok and before someone asks why i wanted to eat a rose petal I'll tell you the quick story. For our Renasscaince party 4 times a year we had to make food and my friend ssaid she'd make some meat dish and have rose petals on top. I kept thinking I never knew you can eat rose petals... then i tasted one and told my friend I didn't liek the taste so plz leave them off the meat and she laughed like crazy saying "You're not supposed to eat them, they are decoration!"
    Ohhhh... OOOPS!

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  8. I've visited your blog manytimes before but never bothered to comment... I knew the distilling process but I never knew about adding it to your drinking water, wow! I will try that as soon as I can find it here in Cairo!

    Thanks for the refreshing tip, sis!

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  9. This is so enlightining.. I love rose water in water.. it tastes great but I never knew how exactly they do it..
    I also use it as a facial toner after cleansing my face it's great for calming irritated skin.. specially the face, I've tried it when I was running a fever once and my face was all itchy from some kind of allergic reaction.. it helped sooth the itch and cool my face..

    There is also Kadi water which I think is Orange Blossom? It also tastes great in water :)

    Thanks for the info I'm sure the smell there was intoxicatingly romantic :)

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  10. Ive never been able to tolerate rose water in my water...much less in my food (desserts etc)...but Ive had it sprinkled on my head etc many times...lol....very refreshing that way too.

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  11. I do love rose water - the taste and the smell.

    How fascinating to find out how it is actually made.

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  12. This is so interesting, Susie. Thank you very much for this post. I loved learning about rose water. I do LOVE the smell of roses. I just love roses. I would love to try rose water some day.

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  13. Hi Susie, thank you for all your information on Rose Water, I think it would be so beautiful.
    What a good idea to use the leftovers for mulch.

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  14. Ohhh, Now I'm craving GulabJamun and Briyani.How cool that you were able to actually see how it is made.
    You can make little beads that smell divine from the leftover petals.

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  15. I love rose water to rinse my hands in--a drop or two on a damp towel or in a bowl of water--but the taste must be acquired because it is too perfumy for me. However, finally, I will be in Jeddah very soon and I would love to visit Taif.

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  16. I love rose water to rinse my hands in--a drop or two on a damp towel or in a bowl of water--but the taste must be acquired because it is too perfumy for me. However, finally, I will be in Jeddah very soon and I would love to visit Taif.

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  17. what an interesting post...i also use/used rose water as a facial wash...what have you. hmmm...a drop in drinking water...will see how that tastes one of these days. have a wonderful day.

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  18. I wonder if the using the spent roses as a mulch would make the garden fragrant of has all the aroma been sucked out? (That comes from my inner garener)
    An interesting post.

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  19. I can't even imagine the heady scent that must be in that place. I've never tried rose water in plain water. It sounds like a nice alternative to lemons!

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  20. Thanks for visiting my blog. I can't believe you lived in Tucson and near Mexico! We have a condo in Mexico in Puerto Penasco. That is where I spend most of my time. It's wonderful here. So, you were a police officer before? I was in Corrections also. I was the Assistant Warden for the Nevada Dept. of Prisons. Small world!
    I am amazed at how interesting yet difficult your life must be in Saudi Arabia. How long have you been there? Do you think you will ever return to the States?
    Pat

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  21. Thanks for visiting my blog. I can't believe you lived in Tucson and near Mexico! We have a condo in Mexico in Puerto Penasco. That is where I spend most of my time. It's wonderful here. So, you were a police officer before? I was in Corrections also. I was the Assistant Warden for the Nevada Dept. of Prisons. Small world!
    I am amazed at how interesting yet difficult your life must be in Saudi Arabia. How long have you been there? Do you think you will ever return to the States?
    Pat

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  22. Love your pictures, Susie! What have you been up to? Haven't seen you on Facebook lately!

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  23. Is this rose water factory near where you live? I wonder what the outside mulch stuff smells like? Very interesting. What about perfume? Is this the start to perfume?

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  24. im polish but currently im living in Scotland.Your stories are absolutely fantastic.im waiting for the next post every day.i start my day with your blog and finish it as well.great job Susie:)

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  25. Interesting. We always have a bottle around, but I had no clue how it was made.

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  26. The workers must smell wonderful when they go home at night! I'm going to see if I can find rose water and test out all the great uses that everyone has discussed here.

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  27. I've never tasted rose water but it sounds lovely!

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  28. Susie,
    This is a great post and very interesting.
    Jessie

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  29. Hi Yoli - I think you're right - the rose water definitely didn't hurt our "budding" romance!

    Hi Hajar - The trick is not to add too much rose water - just a hint.

    Hi VB - If you know of any Middle Eastern groceries in your area, you can probably pick up a bottle of rose water there and try it!

    Hi James - I like lemon in my water too, but rose water is nice for a change.

    Hi Sand - The factory we went to is near the Le Meridien Hotel in Al-Hada - anybody around there should probably know it, or maybe you can visit another one - there are many!

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  30. That's so interesting! I've never tried rose water mixed with regular water.

    I like to use the stuf for sweets though although I prefer the organge blossom water. Certian recipes I use the orange and others I use the rose.

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  31. Hola Susie,
    I prefer orange blossom water. I like the flavor over rose water. I imagine the distilling process is close, if not the same. (?) Are the roses more readily available throughtout most of the year, more so than orange blossoms?
    Cecilia - JetSetMom

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  32. Hi Mel - Yes, you're right - rose water is often added to rice pudding - I love it too.

    Hi AMW - I remember eating rose petals when I was younger too! I think different varieties are much stronger than others - you probably got a really strong one!

    Hi Empress - Thanks for finally commenting! Remember to use just a drop or two - too much doesn't taste good.

    Hi DesertRose - Thanks for the great tips and testimonial!Yes, I've tried the Orange Blossum too and I like it as well!

    Hi CoolRed - I guess it might be an acquired taste - I'm sure you're not alone!

    Hi LadyFi - Thanks - I'm glad you enjoyed the lesson.

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  33. Hi Kay - There are ways that you can make your own rose water at home on your stove! I found several websites that explain how if you're interested.

    Hi Suzanne - You are very welcome!

    Hi Always - What a fabulous idea to make beads from the leftovers!

    Hi Sirius - Me too - I like to rinse my hands in it as well! Inshallah, you will visit Taif one day soon.

    Hi Erin - Thanks! Remember, just a drop or two in drinking water!

    Hi Martha - I think the leftovers still smell a bit. I could smell the big pile outside, but there was a lot of it!

    Hi Louise - It was quite a pleasant scent and not overwhelming like one might think.

    Hi Pat - We've been here since Oct 2007 and we are here indefinitely. I want to be able to visit the states at least once a year.

    Hi Cheela - We were out of town in Taif and I had no access to the internet! Now I'm trying to catch up - you know how that is!

    Hi Tanya - Thanks. Thanks. Thanks!

    Hi Gutsy - Taif is about a 3 hr drive from Jeddah, to the south and east. The outside mulch still smelled pretty good! I believe that the oils are extracted for perfumes and it's a different process.

    Hi Renata - Gee, thanks so much! I'm flattered!

    Hi Mama K - Thanks - it's also great for making babies smell good too!

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  34. Hi Michaelle - Yes, I';m sure these guys smell much better at the end of the day than the street cleaners! Try looking in a Middle Eastern grocery - they usually have it.

    Hi RiotWife - I find it light and refreshing, but see for yourself.

    Hi Jessie - Thanks so much.

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  35. Hi UmmAbdurRahman - Yes, I like both too, and one is definitely better than the other in certain recipes.

    Hi Cecilia - I was told that the roses are only available for about three months of the year. I like the orange blossum water too.

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  36. Hi Susie,

    thank you for that interesting and wonderful post. Do you know by chance if the Taif rose water is available in the U.S.? Is it very expensive?

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  37. What a romantic thing to learn, thank you! It sounds so nice to imagine that your (to become) husband taught you how to use the rose water: I think it's a very beautiful memory for you! Putting connection between that moment of so many years ago, and the actual experience of visiting the place of the rose water, sounds really romantic to me: it's a symbolic unbroken perfumed thread that runs through your lives.

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  38. Hi Francesca -
    I love what you wrote! Especailly the last line. It's beautiful - now I will always think of rose water in that way - thanks!

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  39. You know you could have moved over there, and just stopped living. But, I love that you haven't. In fact, it may well be that you've explored even more than you ever did here! Your husband sounds like a wonderful man and he is lucky to have you dear. Love you very much!

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  40. Suzy! I love reading your blog! It's intriqued me and I look forward to it! Your blog is interesting and beautiful with great music! Terri of Arizona

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  41. I didn't realise it was such a complex process. I love rosewater. For a perfume for cooking for everything it is made for.

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  42. Where can buy this rose water in Malaysia? i would like to try.

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  43. Anonymous--In most countries you can buy rose water in specialty shops or in the specialty sections of major shops where they sell baking ingredients, or perfumes for bath water. Good luck!

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