How to make old-fashioned rose jars: a little effort pays off with a lasting aroma (1963)
In this era of push-button cans of room deodorants and fancy smells, there is still the lingering remembrance of grandma’s old-fashioned potpourris, made from rose petals.
Recipes for making the rose jars or rose pots, as they are also called, are often complicated and involved.
However, there is a simplified method which can be used to make the jars, which release spring rose fragrance when the lids are opened.
The recipe comes from Madge Wilson of Los Alamitos, who gave away her secrets while visiting with her mother, Mrs. Charles W. Hickman.
“This is real easy and quick,” Mrs. Wilson said, demonstrating her art.
The procedure starts with roses. “You just pick your rose petals. If you dry them in the sun, they’ll hold their color,” she said. She recommends picking the petals on the morning of what promises to be a hot sunny day. Spread them on a newspaper in the sun, and they should be dried by evening.
She warned to dry them completely or mold will set in later and ruin the rose jar. Quick sun drying is preferred over drying indoors or in an oven, as the petal color holds better.
The next step is to put the dried petals in a paper bag along with a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves in equal proportion. Generally, 3/4 teaspoon of the spices will be enough for a quart of dry rose petals, Mrs. Wilson said.
“The spices give smell and help preserve the petals, too,” she said. A good shaking scatters the spices throughout the petals.
This is also a good time to add bits of colored ribbon, small velvet or plastic flowers, sequins, glitter or any other material which will add beauty and color to the finished rose jar.
The old-fashioned rose jar to choose
The jar itself should be clear to let the petals and glitter show through. It is important that it have a tight lid. The apothecary jars now common on the market are ideal, Mrs. Wilson said.
Before putting the petals into the jar, get rose soluble [or rose essential oil] at the drug store or have the druggist make up rose water, which is what actually produces the rose fragrance. The dried petals have little smell of their own. Generally, 50 cents will purchase enough of the substance for several rose jars.
Mrs. Wilson said to put the solution into the jar, cap it, and slosh it around the inside, saving ever wanted. At right is a complete rose jar with a ribbon added for decoration. At center is a tray of dried rose petals which have been sprinkled with a spice mixture. Mrs. Hickman what remains to be poured out for other jars. The jar is left open and the liquid dries, leaving only the smell.
Then the petal and spice mixture is put into the jar, and seal it for about a week to “cure.”
To release the fragrance, just open the jar. Mrs. Wilson said the rose jars should last about three years at least and still remain fragrant, and holds that her simplified rose jar recipe still makes fragrant potpourris which hold their smell for three years or more.
“There are more complicated methods, but I think this does it without involving too much work,” Mrs. Wilson said.
To make lavender jars, it is even simpler. She said to just pick the bloom spikes before the blossoms open, hang them up to dry, and then strip off the dried buds. These are placed in a salad jar and crushed a little when the jar is opened to release the fragrance. – Santa Cruz Sentinel (Santa Cruz, California) – Friday, May 17, 1963
Make a rose potpourri jar for winter
The making of a rose jar is a custom older than your great-grandmother — a custom handed down from mother to daughter through the years.
Today we have thousands of new roses of great fragrance that were unknown to our grandmothers, who gathered yellow rambler roses and white brier petals for her rose jar or, if she lived in the country, collected the fragile pink petals of the wild roses.
Nowadays, when we gather petals for making a rose jar, we have many fragrant new roses from which to select the petals. Of course, although the color, the infinite varieties of wonderful shadings are a delight, flowers for the rose jar are specially selected for the intensity and sweetness of their fragrance.
Grandmother knew that red roses and white roses of the old-fashioned kinds had intensely deep perfume, but today, thousands of roses in strange and exquisite new shades bear fragrance that will store the beauty of blossom time in the rose jar.
Orange, carmine, cerise, copper, flame, chrome yellow, vermilion, silvery-pink, the wonderful new roses are fragrant beyond our greatest hopes.
Among them are the Chief, a rich rose pink; Dame Edith Helen, also pink; Golden Dawn, a soft yellow; Hector Deane, a coral red and gold rose; Caledonia white; Mary Hart, blood red; and among climbers, the Hadley.
But walk along the garden rows and the fragrance of the roses will guide you to the petals most desirable for preservation in the rose jar.
Suppose that you already have selected the jar you are to use, perhaps an old-fashioned cut glass sugar bowl with a tight lid, perhaps a candy jar. Many people prefer a stone jar.
Very early in the morning, while the dew is still on the roses, gather the full-blown petals and a few buds. Take the petals to some shady, windless place and spread them out on a newspaper to dry.
Every half-hour, toss the petals about so that they will dry thoroughly. Then begin to pack them in the jar, a half-inch layer of petals, then a sprinkle of salt, and so on, until the day’s supply of petals has been put in the jar. lore maybe added daily, or at intervals, until the jar is full, but the lid should be kept tightly closed except when the jar is being filled.
After the jar is full to within an inch of the top, let it stand for 10 days, stirring the petals daily. Then let the covered jar stand in a dark place for three weeks until the petals are ready for the final curing process.
A mixture of spices and oils then is added to the petals. Mix together one tablespoon each of grated nutmeg, ground mace, broken sticks of cinnamon, cassia buds, dried lavender blossoms and powdered orris root. Now, pour out the rose petals into another container, and put them back into the rose jars in layers alternating with the spice mixture. When the jar is full, pour over the top a few drops of oil of rose, bitter almond or orange blossom.
Cover the jar and set it away in a cool place until November comes, or Christmas. Then remove the lid and breathe the fragrance of summer. Suddenly, as if by a miracle, the roses of summer seem to waft their fragrance through the house and the winter day is glorified.
If you wish to make a rose sachet, just grind the cured rose petals and tie them in colorful bags. You will find this a delightful summer hobby — preserving its fragrance for winter days. – The Los Angeles Times (California) – July 13, 1941
How to make an old-fashioned rose jar (1910)
It seems a great pity to let rose petals go to waste — why not make an old-fashioned rose jar?
Any tightly-covered china jar will do, but it is better to purchase a regular Japanese or Chinese rose jar, which can be as inexpensive or costly as desired.
The potpourri is made as follows: Take a large quantity of fresh rose leaves, dry these in the sun, turn over constantly, so that all get perfectly dry and crisp. Add sweet-scented geranium, lemon verbena, honeysuckle, lavender, etc., all of which must be thoroughly dried.
After about a fortnight’s drying [two weeks], pepper the leaves with powdered orris root, cinnamon and salt; about a tablespoonful of each will be required. Then add twenty drops each of oil of cloves and lavender, half that quantity of oil of cinnamon and as much oil of musk as you feel entitled to spend on your potpourri. (This is the most expensive item in the preparation.)
Mix all together, and place in a wide-mouthed jar. For the first year or two, the leaves should be stirred constantly. Keep your jar in a dry place, and each season you will be more delighted with its fragrance.
The rose has for centuries been the favorite flower, and as such has a place in literature no other plant can rival. The rose is a native of the east — the poetic, genial, mysterious, gay-hued east — where its many-tinted petals can open to a sunshine that is certain and very powerful.
At the commencement of the Christian era, there existed the noted rose gardens in Lucania, while the beauty of the numberless trees in the Persian “Gullstan” are well-known to historians and lovers of literature. From these roses the petals were gathered daily for the bed of the Sultana, who, say records, “could not sleep if the rose leaves were too much crumpled.” – Los Angeles Herald (Los Angeles, California) – July 31, 1910