Rose Petal Preserve 'Gulkand' from India
Gulkand and Gulab Jam & Sharbat
Ashok & Abha Gupta
If you make this preserve, please send your pictures for inclusion here, with your name on them.
Gulkand is a type of rose petal jam that has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. Once ready, it will last for years. It is said that older the Gulkand, better it is for you.
Our father used to make it from wild rose petals he grew in his garden and fresh sugar he made in his factory (he was a sugar chemist). We remember being given Gulkand as children, a spoonful each morning, throughout the summer, sometimes with warm milk. It has cooling properties, it is an antioxidant, a tonic, a mild laxative, and good for memory and eyesight. Wild roses are better for making it, because cultured ones do not have enough essential oils and thus lack flavour. Use either dark red or small pink roses. Make sure no insecticides have been used and the petals are washed very well in order to get rid of dust and insects.
Gulkand is often added to pan, a betel leaf mouth freshener very popular in Northern India. You can add it to India desserts like Phirni, Rice Pudding, Semolina Milk Pudding and Vermicelli Milk Pudding.
Equal amounts by weight of fresh and tender rose petals (not the nearly dead ones) and granular sugar. You can add misri the crystallised Indian sugar, instead of sugar. Some people use double the amount of sugar, but that is too sweet.
Sterilised jam jars (glass) with a wide mouth
Separate rose petals, wash and leave to dry on a towel overnight. No water should remain. If they are not dirty, just wipe them with a towel. This is to get rid of dust and insects. If you are picking from your own garden, spray roses thoroughly with water, leave for a few hours for it to dry and then pick.
Some people cut of the inner, whitish base of the petals, but we don't. You can, if you want to.
Make alternating layers of rose petals directly in the jars, about 1/2 an inch thick petals and granulated sugar.
Close lid and allow to stand in full sun for a few weeks, with lid closed. This is necessary to prevent moisture from escaping. Moisture is required to convert the sugar into thick syrup.
Give it a good shake once in a while. Sugar will melt and the mass will begin to look like a jam in a few weeks. It takes longer in cold countries, because the sun in hot countries cooks the rose petals in sugar fast.
Some people recommend pounding rose petals and sugar together, to facilitate the process, before putting them in the jar.
Rose Drink/Sharbat: Rose petals can also be used to make a Gulkand Sharbat (a drink): Place equal amount by weight of fresh rose petals and sugar in a large pan and cook covered on low heat, with 1/2-1 cup of water. Filter and bottle resulting syrup. Dilute as necessary to make a cooling drink in summer.
Proprietary preparations of Gulkand also contain 'Godanti Bhasma' - a natural form of calcium, 'Praval Pishti' or processed coral or corralium rubrum- a heart and brain tonic, cardamom or 'illaichi' powder - good for urinary, stomach and respiratory disorders and minute quantities of edible silver, available from Indian grocers as 'varak' or thin silver leaves.