Makes about 2¼ cups
Adjust this recipe based on the amount of botanicals you pull from your garden. Use a combination of the flowers and leaves listed below to create the “flower pickle,” then add remaining ingredients in amounts suited to the amount of flower pickle you’ve created.
- Roses, highly scented
- Lavender flowers
- Rose geranium leaves
- Cinnamon basil leaves
- Sweet marjoram leaves
- Vodka or brandy
For every 4 cups of flower pickle, set aside:
- ¼ cup powdered orris root
- ½ vanilla bean, finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon powdered nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon oleoresin of vanilla or balsam of Peru
- 1 teaspoon rose oil (10 percent)
- ¼ teaspoon rosewood oil
- ¼ teaspoon rose geranium oil
- ¼ palmarosa oil
- 1 drop ylang ylang oil
- Gather as many highly scented roses as you can. Layer in a crock with a 1-inch layer of salt, sprinkle with enough rum or vodka to barely moisten the surface (1 to 3 tablespoons), and, as they come into season, add lavender flowers, rose geranium leaves, cinnamon basil leaves, and sweet marjoram leaves (be sure it is Origanum majorana, not oregano) until you have about 3 inches of fresh, fragrant flower petals. Follow with another layer of salt, vodka, and another layer of botanicals, and then another layer of salt and alcohol, until the crock is full.
- When you have filled the crock, turn the salted mass out into a large mixing bowl. Add vanilla bean, nutmeg, oleoresin of vanilla or balsam of Peru (both are dark and sticky and drip out in blobs), and the remaining essential oils to the flower pickle.
- Mix thoroughly and repack into the crock for curing. Take a heavy plate big enough to fit inside the crock opening without leaving much room around the edge. Place the plate on top of the salted mass and press down firmly, compacting the layers. Then weight the plate with a clean brick and set the crock in a cool, shaded place.
- Stir periodically, pouring off any liquid that has collected at the bottom of the crock, and check the scent after the first month and every month thereafter. If the scent is too weak, add just a few drops of any of the above essential oils and mix thoroughly. Then set it aside to cure for another month.
- When it smells the way you want it to, scoop it into presentation containers and enjoy. The scent should last for many years, but if it seems to lag, sprinkle a little brandy over it and mix to revive.
Rand B. Lee is author of Pleasures of the Cottage Garden (Freidman/Fairfax, 1998) and President of the North American Cottage Garden Society and the North American Dianthus Society. He lives in Santa Fe with his blind husky-mix, Moon Pie.
Click here for the original article, Capture Garden Scents.