Being in the right place at the right time is everything, especially when it comes to finding a herb, when it is seemingly looking for you!  Last week while spending 24 hours on Shelter Island, I had the privilege to discover  the beautiful, Rosa Rugosa.  

Having just completed teaching at Sylvestor Manor, I was taking a moment to sit by the water’s edge and paddle my toes without purpose. This rare pause to sit still and reflect released a deep sense of gratitude, physically in my heart.

Almost in the same moment of wistfulness, I caught a glimmer of something fushcia colored from the corner of my eye.  Curious enough to want to know what it was, I got up to investigate further. As if, I had been magnetically drawn to this medicine from my momentary heart opening, I now found myself in front of the most splendid rose bush. Giant petals, shiny rose hips, and endless amounts of thorns.  Thrilling!

Quickly, I accessed how I would be able to twist myself through the prickly stems to gather a pot of petals, and somehow I achieved this pretzel like feat, without getting a single cut.

Rose medicine is well known for its ability to clear emotional clouds and connect us more deeply to our innate joy. I touched on this when I wrote about, Rosa Canina last year and shared a folk recipe for rose elixir.

There are many wild roses to choose from when making medicine and their properties are similar, but this particular beach loving variety is one I had wanted to work with for a long time, and I was filled with delight to finally have some petals to work with.  Along with the more traditional ways of making the medicine, as a tincture, honey, glycerite or elixir, I wanted to explore the possibilities of something edible,  so on my way back to Manhattan, I started thinking about ways to capture the uplifting scent into a fittingly tasty dessert.

Rose Panna Cotta:

2 Fresh Baby Coconuts
2 cups of fresh rose petals, or 1/4 cup of dried rose petals
1/4 cup of Irish Moss* or 2 tsp grass fed gelatin
1/2 cup of unsweetened conconut flakes, (ground up in a coffee grinder)
2 teaspoons of honey or more to taste
Splash of rose water
Pinch of salt
Cup of raspberries
1/2 Lemon


  • Open the coconut either with a Coco Jack or by using, a wood mallet and chisel, which has always worked surprisingly well for me!
  • Drain the coconut water and reserve, (about 2 cups of liquid).
  • Scoop out the coconut flesh and refrigerate, (about 1 cup of coconut flesh).
  • If you are using fresh rose petals, make sure there are no bugs in the plant material. Place unwashed petals in a mason jar and steep with a cover, in whatever liquid you harvested from the 2 coconuts, (hopefully at least 2 cups),  for at least 24 hours, but no longer than 48. Keep the infusion refrigerated.
  • The rose petals should have lost some of their vital energy by the time you strain them, and if you are lucky, some of the pink hue will have filtered into the coconut water.
  • Strain the rose petals out from the liquid, making sure to extract all the rose infused coconut water and using an electric hand blender, combine the liquid with the dried coconut flakes.
  • Once blended, strain through a fine mesh, discard the coconut flakes and reserve the liquid.
  • This is your homemade rose infused coconut milk and it should smell pretty heavenly at this point!
  • Rehydrade the Irish Moss in some warm water, making sure to sift out any silt and dirt. Once cleaned and left to soak,  it will take about an hour to fully hydrate and should have doubled in size.
  • At this point, blend 80% of the hydrated Irish Moss with the rose infused coconut water, rose water, salt and coconut flesh until silky smooth.
  • Divide the mixture into shot glasses or small dishes that take about a 1/4 cup of mixture.   Leave to set in the fridge.
  • While the panna cottas  are chilling in the fridge, gently simmer the rasperries and juiced lemon in a covered pot on the stove for just enough time, to break down the fruit.
  • Strain through a mesh and blend the seedless mixture with the remaining irish moss.
  • Finally pour this gelatinous mix over the chilled coconut panna cotta and allow to set for a final time in the fridge before eating.


Hope to see you this week at Nao Wellness for explorations into ways to deal with stress, anxiety and sleeplessness. Learn more here

To learn more about the  foraging class I led at Sylvestor Manor, please read this review in the Northforker.