October 31, 2009

Rose Hip Jelly

I've gathered wild rose hips for herbal tea in the past, but I've never made jelly with them. This was the first thing I thought of when I realized that the place was covered with wild roses.

Rose hips in the wildOur wild southern Appalachian roses produce hips that small and seedy, but sweet. I had read that the best time to gather them for jelly is after first frost. Evidently this softens them a bit. However, when I went out a few weeks ago to check on them, I discovered that not only were they beginning to turn red, but some of them had also gone out to dry out and turn black. I decided I'd better harvest not, first frost or no. This turned out to be a wise decision because our first frost didn't phase them a bit.

Most of the recipes I found online call for two quarts (8 cups) of hips. It was time consuming collecting so many, so I did it over several days, choosing the ripest ones. Rose hips will ripen after picking, but I like to let things ripen on the plant. Eventually I got the amount called for.

Would make for a good "Guess The Number" contest.One thing that the recipes said that I didn't do, was to cut off all the blossom ends and stems. Good grief, I thought. Mine are so teeny and there must be a squillion of them. I figured these would strain out anyway, so most of them were left on.

My blender was faster than my food mill would have been.I simmered them for about 15 minutes in enough water to cover them. They are supposed to be mashed to release the pulp, these were too small for my potato masher. I decided to pop it all into my blender and give it a whirl.

Actually some of them were still a little hard, so I probably should have simmered them longer. One recipe called for simmering for an hour.

Even so, the blender pulverized the whole thing pretty well. The color at this point looked more like a tomato sauce red than rose hip red.

It was pretty late by this time so I put the pulp into my jelly bag and let it drip drain over night.

In the morning, I was pleased that I had gotten the required four cups of rose hip juice for the recipe, but dismayed that the color wasn't any better. In fact it was worse. Definitely not a color one would associate with roses...

I am totally yucked out by this color!Why am I so concerned about the color? Because I've always been a "handmade for the holidays" person, though usually my gifts are sewn, embroidered, quilted, knitted, or handwoven. Due to all the work we've been doing on the homestead this year, I figured homemade jams and jellies would suit. Even so, I give to a few folks who consider me a health food nut. I could just imagine one of them opening this color jelly and thinking to themselves, "So. She's still at it with the bark and twigs, eh?"

Time for a true confession. This bothered me so much at first that I actually thought about cheating. For a brief second I contemplated adding red food coloring! Then I came to my senses.

I suspect it was those blossom ends and stems that affected the color. When I tasted the freshly squeezed juice, it was a bit bitter, which leads me to suspect that natural tannins may be the culprit. I was discouraged but I still pressed on, deciding to wait for the final product before declaring the whole thing a failure.

Finished product not so bad after allSix half-pints and enough for me to sample on an almond butter and rose hip jelly sandwich made with toasted homemade whole wheat bread...

PB & r-h J sandwich. YumHappily, it turned out to be quite tasty. And the color isn't too bad either, so yes, I'll use them for gifts. I plan to wrap them in little drawstring bags sewn from my handwoven remnants.

I have since learned the rugosa roses are the most popular varieties for rose hip production. I'll have to consider a spot for a bush or two and maybe my rose hip ventures will be a little easier in the future.

Rose Hip Jelly photos & text copyright October 2009 


  1. How neat. I don't think that we have any rose hips on our place. It looks delicious. What does rose hip tea taste like anyways?

  2. Gorgeous color! It sure sounds like it would taste interesting. What does it smell like?

  3. Very interesting! I'll have to look for rose hips around our place! I think it's very nice to give homemade items as gifts. I know I appreciate them a little more than store-bought gifts!

  4. I think the colour is fine! if they want deep red - let them eat beetroot jelly:)) you can darken the colour by using the black hips of rosa pimpinellifolia, which also has fantastic scent when in flower. I do use the rugosas however - because I deseed the whole lot (I pick them over several times, store the deseeded lot in the freezer and use them all together, once picking time is over), simmer them and put them through a fine sieve. quite a lot of work, but the jam tastes so good! some of the rugosas tend to spread by runners, which is good if you want more hips - but not so good if the runners invade your flower beds etc...

  5. looks very yummy! I think the folks who get this will love it...and if they think it's twigs and bark, save the jelly for someone who will appreciate it (like me!) ;o)

    I'm supposed to go help my friend make apple butter this week. I can't wait as my daughter will eat it straight out of the jar! DD got to help make crab apple jelly a while back...yum! We just need to figure out how to harvest the crab apples from the top of my friend's tree. We're only able to reach about half of the crab apples with a ladder. sigh! next year we'll get them!

  6. I think it looks really yummy!

  7. I can not thank you enough for this posting. I don't have enough rose hips to make jelly yet but when I do I'm going to make it just like you did. Looks so good!!!!! Maybe next year I'll have enough for at least one jar of my own jelly.

  8. I'm glad you stayed true and didn't add the food coloring. Nature looks best when it isn't garish.

    So, does it smell like roses?

    Now to go and make myself an PB&J sandwich, thankyouverymuch!

  9. Geez...I wish I had half your energy, Leigh! How wonderful you have the supply nearby and can do this. We have some rugosa in the area, but way few and far between.

    (sigh) I want to be like Leigh when I grow up. :)

  10. Robin, I've only had it in tea blends. I will give some straight rose hip tea a try and report back.

    Kat, it doesn't really have much smell, but then neither to the hips. I found a recipe using rose petals in jelly too, so now I'm wondering if that one would smll like roses.

    Lynn, do! If not ,plan to plant some rugosas where you can enjoy their summer blooms as well as their hips in the fall.

    Bettina, interesting. That must mean that the hips are pretty good size. Jam sounds good too. How do you deseed them? Any tips?

    Renee want to trade some crabapples for a jar of jelly? My brother used to love crabapple jelly when we were kids and I tried to find some locally via freecycle but the one source turned out to be a deadend. I need apples too. DS loves apple butter just like Darly.

    Julie, it is!

    Barb, thanks for that. Maybe you have a friend or two with rose bushes in the yard? I love making my own jams and jellies. Plus I like controlling the ingredients; no high fructose corn syrup, preservatives, additional thickeners or colorings. Ironically we don't eat them very much but they are fun to make. Dan only eats strawberry jam so all the jellies are left to me. That's one reason I like to give them as give them as gifts.

    Benita, I am too *LOL. It doesn't smell like roses though. Doesn't have much fragrance at all actually, but it was good on that PB & J sandwich!

    Kathy, *LOL. You know the answer to that don't you, you need to plant some!

  11. It looks delicious. And you gave me a genuine, laugh-out-loud moment of hilarity with the 'bark and twigs' thing...

  12. We have rugosa roses and I realized that we had a bumper crop, and then all the craziness of trips took over. I'm not much of sweet-tooth, but I like the idea of gifts. Next year~

  13. Sharon, definitely. It's fun to make and rewarding to stand back and admire your handiwork. Great gifts too.

  14. Looks yummy and tasty to me, I don't see any problem with the colour. Unless, I suppose if you were expecting apricot jam from the colour then the taste might be a surprise?

    We have a single jar of beautiful pink jelly which Bob made from Kingston Black cider apples and sorbus berries. It's the first time either of us tried a jelly, and it turned out very tasty. The pink colour was quite unexpected though. I guess it's like using plant dyes, you can't always tell what you'll get from looking at the plant.

  15. The colour of the finished jelly looks gorgeous, Leigh.

    I think people always love to get home canning as gifts. We quite often give it too although I usually give it along with the caveat - if you want more home canned goodies you'll need to be sure to return the jars to get a refill. ;-) I've always said it jokingly but it really does work because people return my jars and quite often seem to give me even more empty jars than I originally gave them filled. ;-)

  16. My hubby just read through a recipe for rose hip jam and we remembered that you had tried your hand at making some.

    We re-read the post together and he wonders if the seeds from the rose hips are what affected the color and level of tannins. His recipe calls for using a food mill to press the softened hips and he is surmising that perhaps the blender crushed the seeds.

  17. Dorothy that apple jelly sounds lovely. I'd love to make some crab apple jelly for my brother (his fav) but I can't track any down. May have to plant my own!

    Heather, that's what I do too! Works great, doesn't it!

    Good questions, Kat. My rose hips are pretty small, so that's part of the problem. The blender didn't seen to crack or crush the seeds though as they strained out easily. I think the tannins came from the bits of stem left on the hips. Next spring I'm going to plant some rugosa roses for their hips and will be curious as to the differences when it comes to jelly making. Actually, the rose hip jelly isn't anything special taste-wise. Just a novelty. :)


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