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more flowers, please

Recipe: wild rose petal ice cream

I want to thank all of the readers who have emailed or messaged me their concerns for our safety over the weekend. We are safe. The wildfire (started by illegal campers on private land who failed to put out their campfire) in Nederland that quickly erupted Saturday afternoon a couple of miles from our home has spread in the other direction. For the time being, our house is okay and our neighborhood has not been evacuated although a large swath of our mountain and canyon communities are under mandatory evacuation. Neva is with us in Crested Butte. Our current plan is to remain here for a few days to minimize the strain on resources in that area and to keep out of the way of fire crews as they work tirelessly to battle the blaze in extremely hot, dry, and windy conditions over rugged terrain.


Dining Out Denver & Boulder included use real butter among 11 Colorado Food Blogs You Should Read.

It’s been 2 years since we let our sweet Kaweah go. I still miss her every day.


My parents came out to visit with us in Crested Butte this past week. The last time they were here, we had just moved in and didn’t have a good handle on the best places to eat or things to do. This time we planned a more suitable itinerary and kept the activities flexible and relaxed. Dad did a little fishing, we took some walks and hikes through the wildflowers, we dined out at some of our favorite Crested Butte restaurants, we dined in so Dad could open some bottles of his favorite wines, we attended a neighborhood party, and everyone played with Neva.

me and my mom on a morning hike

mom and dad at dinner

After the parental units returned to Boulder, we resumed our schedule of hikes, paddles, and runs. All manner of wildflowers are coming up: cinquefoil, sulfur paintbrush, Indian paintbrush, lupine, larkspur, monkshood, giant hyssop, mule ears, aspen daisies, fleabane daisies, oxeye daisies, old man of the mountain, cow parsnip, osha, sticky geranium, blue columbines, prairie smoke, elephant heads, wild roses, blue flax, and spotted coralroot – to name a few of the ones I can identify! We have been finding various mushrooms along the trails, too. I’m not the type of person who feels compelled to eat every single mushroom I encounter, but it’s hard to turn down oyster mushrooms. The handful of aspen oyster mushrooms we foraged were mostly old and wormed out. Still, I brought them home. I was able to fry up two of them for dinner, but I took the old ones and smeared them against our aspens in the yard in the hopes that we’ll see some oyster mushrooms appear next summer. It doesn’t hurt to try!

lupine and indian paintbrush

elephant heads with a scenic backdrop

freshly foraged aspen oyster mushrooms

fried in butter and served with leftover beef tenderloin

neva’s pretty certain she would have liked some steak

Due to inflammation of my right trapezius muscle for the past couple of weeks, I wasn’t able to get out for a trail run until recently. I had assumed that all of the wild roses would have finished by now, but I was mistaken. Much to my delight, I saw and smelled hundreds of blooms for miles. Jeremy asked if I was tempted to go back and forage more rose petals. I said no. If they were mushrooms, maybe, but I was done with rose petal recipes for the season. There was the rose petal jam recipe I shared last week and now I have a rose petal ice cream for you.

fragrant, beautiful, simple wild roses

eggs, sugar, rose petals, milk, cream, lemon, salt, beet juice (not pictured: rose water)

I’ve been on a mission to find a good rose petal ice cream recipe ever since I attended a special 50th wedding anniversary celebration years ago where they served an Italian rose petal gelato. I forgot about it for a few years until I realized there was an abundance of wild roses growing around my house that I could use. Last year I managed to miss the bloom entirely, so I made sure to catch it this year. If you don’t have wild roses available, you can use unsprayed fresh roses. If you aren’t familiar with foraging wild rose petals, have a gander at the rose petal jam post for pointers.

combine most of the rose petals, the sugar, and a pinch of salt in a food processor

pulse into a purée or a really well-blended wet sugary mix

combine a cup of cream, the milk, and the rose sugar in a saucepan

Sadly, the wild rose petals lose their delicate pink color when heated. This results in a tan custard when you combine the hot cream mixture with the egg yolks. You can leave it that color, or if you want a rose-colored ice cream, you can add beet juice like I did, or red food coloring. For the beet juice, I found I required a good 3 tablespoons to get the color remotely pink. I’m certain that red food coloring is far more concentrated and that you’ll only need a couple of drops to achieve the same intensity of pink.

whisk some of the hot cream mixture into the egg yolks

once the custard is done, strain it through a sieve

stir in a cup of heavy cream

add beet juice or food coloring to get a pink custard

Once you get the color you are after, stir in some lemon juice. The tartness helps to brighten the rose flavor, which seems a little flat without the acid. Taste the custard. If the rose flavor is too subtle, then I recommend giving it a little boost with some rose water because the flavor of the custard becomes even more subtle when frozen. I prefer Nielsen-Massey rose water. The final step before chilling is to chop up the reserved half cup of rose petals and stir them into the custard.

add the lemon juice

measure some rose water

chop up the remaining rose petals

stir in the chopped rose petals

Once the custard is completely chilled (I like to refrigerate it overnight), you can churn it in your ice cream machine. The churned ice cream should be the consistency of soft-serve ice cream. If you can resist spooning it directly into your mouth, spread the ice cream into a vessel and freeze it until firm. When you serve the ice cream, there should be little flecks of rose petal visible in each scoop.

chilled custard ready to churn

frozen wild rose petal ice cream

I think it’s fair to say that I need to get over my preconceived notion that rose-flavored items will taste like bath soap. Both the jam and this ice cream are deliciously floral without knocking me over the head like a walk through a Bath and Body Works store. I was surprised by the sophisticated ease of the wild rose and cream partnership. I think it is as good as the Italian rose petal gelato if not better!

we all need more flowers

ice cream for rose lovers

Wild Rose Petal Ice Cream
[print recipe]
modified from Purple Citrus and Sweet Perfume: Cuisine of the Eastern Mediterranean by Silvena Rowe

3 cups (about 1 1/4 oz.) lightly packed fresh wild rose petals (or unsprayed fresh rose petals)
1 cup sugar
pinch of salt
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
5 egg yolks
2-3 tbsps beet juice or 2-3 drops of red food coloring
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp rose water (I like Nielsen-Massey)

Place 2 1/2 cups of the rose petals, the sugar, and a pinch of salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse the contents into a purée or until the rose petals are no longer distinguishable. Place the purée in a medium saucepan with 1 cup of cream and the milk. Stir together over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. When the mixture begins to bubble at the edges, turn off the heat.

Place the egg yolks in a medium bowl. While whisking the yolks, slowly pour a cup of the hot liquid into the yolks. Repeat with another cup of hot liquid. Scrape the egg yolk mixture back into the saucepan, stirring to combine. Set the saucepan over medium heat and stir constantly (getting at the corners to prevent any burning or curdling) until the liquid thickens into a custard. It should be thick enough to coat the back of your spoon. Remove from heat.

Strain the custard through a fine mesh sieve into a large bowl. Stir in the remaining cup of heavy cream. Stir in enough beet juice or red food coloring to achieve the color you desire. Stir in the lemon juice and rose water. Finely chop the remaining 1/2 cup of rose petals and add them to the custard. Completely chill the custard over an ice bath or covered in the refrigerator overnight. Churn the ice cream per the directions for your ice cream machine. Spoon the churned ice cream into a container and freeze until hard. Makes 1 quart.

more goodness from the use real butter archives

wild rose petal jam rose water lemonade watermelon berry mojito huckleberry ice cream

14 nibbles at “more flowers, please”

  1. vivian says:

    wow! such an amazing dessert.

  2. Kristin says:

    Gosh, somehow I hadn’t heard about the fires. Sad, but I’m glad your house is ok so far. Love the wildflower photos, and the ice cream looks beautiful. I am a big fan of rose flavor used judiciously!

  3. Caterina B says:

    I was so glad to find your post this morning after seeing the news and wondering if your home was safe!
    That photo of Neva is priceless! I love the classic Labrador eyes and her cute, cute big paws. It makes me want
    yet another black Lab. Right now we have a yellow one and and a boy Westie who we call “The Supervisor.”
    Labradors will always be my favorite dog. We got our “Oak” 3 years ago from Safe Harbor Labrador Rescue in Golden, Colorado. I highly recommend getting a rescue dog. Oak is absolutely the sweetest dog and even came to us pretty well trained. LABRADORS FOREVER!

  4. Martha says:

    So glad you are having a wonderful time with your parents and the happy pooch! We can see the smoke from here in Morrison and it just makes my heart sink. Take care…

  5. Sharon says:

    I enjoyed reading your blog and I hope to one day make wild rose petal ice cream. I remember your dog that passed. I can’t believe two years has passed. I am so happy you have Neva. Take care Jen

  6. Linda says:

    I am so glad the three of you, and the Nederland house are safe! I heard about it this morning on the news and I immediately thought of you.

    I also can’t believe that it’s been 2 years that Kaweah has been gone. Neva is adorable, but she’s not Kaweah. My grandpuppy Rowdy is 9 1/2 now, and is so gray. She has had several surgeries. She hasn’t been able to run for a year now as a result of the two surgeries on her back legs. I don’t get to see her often enough, and worry about how much longer she’ll be with us.

    Keeping my fingers crossed that the wind keeps going away from your house, and that your home and the homes and lives of your friends are spared.

    Give Neva a kiss for me.

    xo Linda

  7. Pey-Lih says:

    Did not know about the fires – how nerve wracking! Good news that you guys are doing OK. Even though we are fostering Snowball, a 7 year old black lab, I still miss my Mocha everyday, too! So, I know what you mean. The rose petal ice cream looks fantastic! I need to make ice cream – haven’t in a while, so this is a good recipe to start. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Melanie says:

    I’ve been wondering about you and the fires. Glad to hear you’re safe. I, too, have trouble with floral foods. Can’t seem to get on board with lavender items. Totally hear you about missing Kaweah. I think about my pets who have passed all the time too. They’re precious. We’re at steamboat lake right now and could use your help identifying wild flowers. There are tons here right now. Beautiful!!

  9. angelitacarmelita says:

    I’m glad to hear that you and your loved ones are safe. I miss our little Timona (my mom’s little girl, and our families little furry sister) everyday too and wish I could convince mom to get another one, but she’s not ready and it’s her responsibility so I’ll have to let it be. If you ever get a hankering to take a shot, I’d love to see how the oyster mushrooms grow, they were pristine! I hope rubbing them on the trees work for you. I bit the bullet at Whole Foods the other day and had to buy a few morels that had been locally foraged. Yum$

  10. Jill Hyde says:

    A beautiful post, Jen. You are so lucky to have your parents so close! Love that photo of Neva…oh those lanky legs! Dreadfully sorry about the trapezius. Wonder what traumatized that? Take good care. Kaweah was a very special girl. xoxo, jill

  11. AngelxChic says:

    Congratulations on the recognition by Dining Out Denver/Boulder! From all your amazing recipes and Colorado love-pictures to Kaweah (I miss her too!) and Neva, your site is one of my favorite food blogs since I started following 5 years ago.

  12. jenyu says:

    vivian – thanks!

    Kristin – I used to feel kind of funny about rose flavored things, but I’m really enjoying them now.

    Caterina – thank you! And yes, I have a soft spot in my heart for labs. Silly things :)

    Martha – ugh, I know what you mean. Anytime there is a wildfire anywhere, it makes me sad. Thank you xo

    Sharon – thank you, dear xoxo

    Linda – aww, so sweet. Neva sends kisses and wags to you and Rowdy <3

    Pey-Lih - thanks and you're welcome :)

    Melanie - I think the thing with floral foods is that it can't be too strong. That's what turns me off the most. But a little touch of it can be quite nice! Glad you're enjoying Steamboat, that is SUCH a great place!

    angelitacarmelita - I put a photo of the oysters up for you - hope that helps! :)

    Jill - oh, the trapezius was a result of lots of food prep for several days, then computer work, then blammo. xo

    AngelxChic - thanks, you are so kind! xoxo

  13. elies says:

    i’m falling in love! love! love! hahaha
    thanks for sharing the recipe and story! ;)

  14. Suzanne says:

    I can’t wait to try this! What a great combination of flavors!

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