It is that time of year again -- when the temperatures begin to drop & the air gets a bit blustery; time for pumpkins & apple picking. Time to start thinking about ROSES. Not the lush blooms of Summer, no!
Now is the time to think about ROSEHIPS.
Now, in fact, is the perfect time to harvest them, as they typically best after first frost.
All roses & their hips are edible, although flavor varies depending on the variety. Here in mid-coast Maine you are most likely to come upon the wild briar-rose, also called dog rose [rosa canina,] & rambling hedgerows of beach roses [rosa rugosa.] Wild beach roses have enormous hips [seriously the size cherry tomatoes!] making them easier to clean. They are fabulous for teas & making marmalade due to their size. The hips of the briar-rose are smaller & more of a challenge to clean, but make the tastiest jam & jelly by far! We are fortunate to have lots of wild dog rose bushes growing all over our neighborhood, a fact I am taking full advantage of this year! When foraging these beauties, be sure to take only what you will use & leave some for the birds & deer. They need their vitamins too! Also be very careful to only harvest from plants that have not been treated with pesticides.
Eyes on the prize, I set about cleaning the wild briar-rose hips I collected. I sectioned off a portion of my haul to dry for tea--these hips will need to be fully cleaned in order to store & use for tea. My jelly recipe only requires me to top & tail them [remove the bud & blossom ends] with no need to remove all the tiny, sticky seeds & itchy hairs inside. This is an enormous time-saver, but even so, processing the hips for my jelly is a long, tedious chore. I find this is best handled with a good audio-book! I focus my mind on the story & let my hands do the dirty work. I am once again relieved that I do not need to remove the seeds & hairs for my recipe, as they will be strained out.
Rosehip seeds contain a tiny amount of arsenic [about the same amount as apple seeds] & are really not the issue--but those tiny hairs can be very irritating to the throat & skin, so must either be removed completely or strained out of your rosehip mixture prior to consuming.
Despite how long it takes to clean them, it is completely worth your time to make some rosehip jelly. They are an amazing source of Vitamin C [3 small hips contain as much as an orange!] & have also been used traditionally for colds & as a stomach tonic.
New studies by the Arthritis Foundation have now shown them to be very effective at managing pain & inflammation. [read about that here ]
You may be surprised by the flavor -- more citrus than floral, it is absolutely delicious & pairs well with sweet or savory items.
Below is the “easy” or fool-proof recipe, best for beginners.
I have seen others with less sugar or made with honey, but they are a bit more complicated. I will make some of mine plain, & add strawberries to some, giving instructions for both versions.
Foraged Rosehip Jelly
4 Cups Rosehip Juice
[instructions to follow]
7.5 Cups Sugar
6 Ounces Liquid Pectin
[1/2 cup chopped & crushed strawberries if you want to do half your batch as rosehip-strawberry!]
First, we need to extract the juice from the hips.
Top & tail time completed, I place the cleaned hips in a colander & flush them with cold running water for a minute or two. Place the cleaned hips in a coquette or large stock pot & cover with 5 cups water. AVOID the use of aluminum pots or utensils as they can damage the Vitamin C.
Bring to a boil, then simmer 15-25 minutes until rosehips are soft. Gently push the rosehips & all the liquid through a jelly bag, cheesecloth, or fine strainer. This will separate the seeds & pesky hairs along with the skins.
Pop that lot into your compost. You should be left with cloudy, red-orange rosehip juice. You will need between 1 & 2 lbs of hips to get the needed 4 cups of juice.
Prep your jars. I like to divide up my batches & do half rosehip & the other half rosehip-strawberry. To make this hybrid, simply substitute ½ crushed, cleaned strawberries for ½ cup of your rosehip juice. [so 3 1/2 c rosehip juice + ½ crushed, chopped strawberries.]
Put your measured rosehip juice back in that large pot & add the sugar. Bring to a full, rolling boil. Add the liquid pectin, stirring, & bring back up to boiling. Boil hard for 8-10 minutes.
Remove from heat & skim foam if desired. Ladle hot jelly into jars. Voila! Keep the jars in your refrigerator or process in boiling water for the proper length of time for your elevation.
It is that simple! I hope you enjoy making & eating this jelly. Let me know what you think. It is quite lovely on toast, but pairs well with roasted meats & game too.
We are headed down to forage beach rose hips as well -- if I get a good haul, I will make rosehip marmalade & do another post with that recipe too.
I am always happy to hear of new & exciting uses for herbs & flowers. I would love it if you would share yours with us. Keep growing! [and foraging!]
My husband & I were blessed with 2 beautiful girls. When I was diagnosed with MS, I couldn't keep up the pace working retail. We decided on a simpler life, built a cabin in the woods, & moved to mid-coast Maine