Some say, “hunger is the best sauce.” Not true. Nothing piques the appetite better than sea wind, laborious recipes, and, of course, sugar.

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The hip of a sea rose plant.

Thus, today, I bring you a recipe for wild rose hip jelly. The perfect autumn treat for foodies, edible wild plant enthusiasts, survivalists, and those who simply crave tedious manual labor for its own sake.

Rose hip jelly making is tiresome and the rewards are meager in quantity.  If you’re thinking in terms of hourly wage, you’d do much better making apple butter from windfall apples this time of year, or just buying your fruit spread at the market on the cheap. But, if you’re like me, and can’t resist a wild plant, you might want to try it. Here’s everything you need to know.

Why should I make wild rose hip jelly?

  • Wild foods are good for you.  In general, farmed plants are nutritionally inferior to their wild counterparts. So says the New York Times.
  • Rose hips are loaded with Vitamin C. I’ve seen all kinds of claims. Here’s one: According to The Organic Prepper, rose hips have 60 times as much Vitamin C as an equal quantity of citrus fruit.
  • Gathering rose hips for jelly is a delight and your final product will be delicious.
  • Sure, you could make blackberry jelly. That would be WAY easier. But you can buy blackberry jelly at the market. Rosehip jelly is a rare treat with the allure of the exotic and old-fashioned.
  • Your domestic skills will impress all of your friends.

How do I gather rose hips?

Roses are ubiquitous, and most rose bush owners will happily part with their rose hips. Just be sure the rose bushes haven’t been sprayed with pesticides.

I used the hips of sea roses. Sea rose hips are larger than typical garden rose hips and they have an added benefit: they are located at the sea. So, go to the beach, find a rose bush, and start picking.

The Sea Rose. Rosa Rugosa.

The Sea Rose. Rosa Rugosa.

The rose hips are the fruit that appears behind the wilted rose blossom.  They are easily plucked from a rose bush when ripe.  Apparently, they are sweetest after a frost. Around here (Scotland), they are available in the early fall. I’ve seen them ripe on Cape Cod around the same time. Look for reddish-orange hips that have just begun to turn soft and a bit translucent.  If you’ve successfully found a pesticide free plant, you will see some worms, spiders and other bugs on your hips. Bugs are not a problem. In fact, if you don’t see these, think again about whether your rose bush may have been sprayed with chemicals and look elsewhere.

Simply pluck the rose hip from the end of the stem.  You’ll be chopping and mashing, so no need to be too fussy about the process. Torn hips, stems, etc., are all acceptable.

What if I don’t want to make jelly? Can I do anything else with rose hips?

Yes! You can dry them for tea. I saved the seeded, mashed fruit from the jelly recipe and ate it with yogurt. You could also use the fruit in a scone or muffin.  Meat eaters might serve a rose hip jam as an accompaniment to roast meat, in the same way you might serve cranberry sauce.  Really, I think you could use these anyway you might use cranberries.

Is there anything not to love about rose hips?

Seeding.  It’s incredibly time consuming and annoying to remove the seeds from rose hips.  But you’ll feel so productive and accomplished once you finish. Anyway, you’re reading this blog. You’ve got plenty of time to waste.

Can I get the recipe already?

ROSE HIP JELLY

Most of the recipes I found online assume you know something about making jelly.  I’ll go ahead and assume you are a domestic incompetent like me.  Also, people like to get all science-y with their jam recipes, but I figure, people were making jam long before the invention of the metric system, so we can be relaxed and guesstimate.

  1. Go to the beach.  Find a rose bush. Pick rose hips until you get at least a few generous handfuls. More is better.

    Making it happen.
    Don’t I look serious?

  2. Stick a spoon and plate in the freezer.
  3. Wash the rose hips.
  4. Chop off the stem and blossom.
  5. Cut the hips in half and scrape out the seeds.  This is your limiting factor. Depending on how much patience you have for this, you may make a good big batch of rose hip jelly, or just lightly flavor a smaller portion. Both are OK. You’re already being super-virtuous by even attempting to make your own wild-harvested fruit jelly. In all likelihood, you’ll have picked way more rose hips than you’ll want to de-seed. Add the adjective “small batch” to your post on Rose Hip Jelly and feel satisfied.*
  6. Yes, you can sample the raw rose hip just don’t eat the seed.  Tangy!
  7. Add the rose hips to a pot.  I also added a couple of peeled, cored & cubed windfall apples and a peeled chopped orange along with the juice of two lemons. The apple and lemon are supposed to provide adequate natural pectin but that didn’t work for me.
  8. Add water to cover and bring to boil.
  9. Simmer for 25 minutes.
  10. Mash the fruit and pour through a strainer. Save the fruit mash.  It’s yummy.
  11. Add a couple cups of sugar to the strained liquid, to taste.  Obviously, this will depend on how much liquid you managed to make.
  12. Now add about a teaspoon of store-bought liquid pectin per cup of rose hip liquid and boil for a few minutes.

    See that smile?  I just snuck a sample.

    So happy.

  13. Grab that plate and spoon from the freezer.  With the cold spoon, scoop out some of your concoction. Drop it onto the plate and see how gelatinous it is.  You can cook it longer and add more pectin as necessary.
  14. When your rose hip jelly is perfect, pour it into a jar. No need to get involved with boiling jars and all of that.  You’ll eat this in the next few days.

The ebook version of my novel, Drowning Cactus, is on sale until Sunday (through my publisher’s website only) and it’s ridiculously cheap.  If you’re thrifty enough to consider making sea rose jelly, you might want to check it out.

*I have seen recipes that don’t require de-seeding. In these, you simply chop up the roses, and then, at step 10, strain the liquid through muslin or other fine cloth so that none of the seeds go through. Having been warned that the fine hairs on the rose hip seeds cause anal itching, and equipped with only a coarse sieve for straining, I decided against this method. If you have some muslin and/or aren’t worried about anal itching, by all means, skip the de-seeding! Let me know how that works out for you.

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