Thursday, September 22, 2011

Wildcrafting - Rose Hip Jelly

We live in an area resplendent with wild roses (Rosa Canina).  Every year, when the rose hips command attention with their varying hues of red, pink and orange, I promise myself that I am going to attempt rose hip jelly.   Year after year, as late summer turns into autumn, I watch the rose hips wither and die and vow that "next year I'll find the time to make jelly".

This was the year.  As I walked with  my children, gathering samples for their nature journals, I harvested a hand full of beautiful, plump rose hips.  We brought our treasures home, drew pictures and researched our various samples.  Reading article after article singing the praises of the humble rose hip spurred me into action.  Armed with baskets and rose scissors, the kids and I scoured our country road in search of the tart fruit of the dog roses.

After filling our baskets, we carefully picked through our rose hips, removing the stems and flower remnants.  At first I just plucked them off with my fingers, however I eventually resorted to a knife because my thumbs were complaining loudly.  I rinsed the hips, making sure to toss any rotten ones and cutting off any bad or wormy spots.  After putting them (about 5 cups worth) in a pot, I covered them with 4 cups of water, put a lid on the pot and gently brought the rose hips to a boil, stirring occasionally.  I simmered them, stirring from time to time for about 20 minutes, removed from the heat, covered and let them sit in the pot overnight.

Picked through and ready to boil
Having been boiled and allowed to sit overnight
The next day, I pulled out my trusty sieve with a wooden follower and poured about 1/2 of the rose hip/water combination through it.  The water, of course, zipped through the sieve, but I really had to work the rose hips to press the pulp through.  Occasionally, I would scrape the pulp off of the outside of the sieve, into my glass measuring bowl.  I continued working the rose hips until I couldn't get any more pulp out of them and then dumped what was left into my "chicken bucket".  I poured the second half of the rose hips/water into the sieve and finished working it into a pulp.

Jam making sieve
Pushing the pulp through the sieve
I ended up with about 2 cups of pulp/juice in my measuring bowl.  I added a cup of water to bring the amount up to 3 cups.  After stirring the pulp and water together, I poured it into a pot, added 3 1/2 cups of sugar and 1/2 cup of lemon juice.  Using a whisk, I stirred and heated the pulp, water, sugar and juice until it became a lovely, smooth syrup.  On medium/high heat, I continued to stir and heat until the jelly reached 220 degrees (it took about 20 minutes).  After the jelly reached the desired temperature, I poured it into sterilized jars, capped them off and processed them in my water bath canner.

The pulp and the juice
Heating, after adding lemon juice and sugar
Rose hip jelly is beautiful!  And the taste is difficult to describe - very tangy and sweet, all at the same time.  Rose hips are extraordinarily high in Vitamin C - in fact they are one of the richest plant sources available.  During World War II, British citizens were encouraged to cultivate rose hip producing roses to supplement their Vitamin C sources.  Rose hips are also beneficial for treating rheumatoid arthritis due to both anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects.

Rose Hip Jelly
Because the yield from rose hips is rather small, I would be very tempted to add rose hips to another, abundant fruit to increase the jelly output.  Due to the high concentration of Vitamin C, rose hips could be an essential part of a healthy, post-TEOTWAWKI diet.  I can say with certainty that I will be indulging in rose hip jelly this year and for many years to come.

**I chose not to use pectin, heating the mixture to induce a jell.  However, you could use pectin to achieve the same jell.


  1. The rose hip jelly looks wonderful!

  2. How come you don't use pectin? Given that eventually store bought pectin will run out, I'm going to look at trying to heat my jelly next time. :)

    Preppin' Mama

  3. Preppin' Mama;
    I am trying to get by making things as basically as possible. The jelly did not jell very hard (although it is quite acceptable) so next time I would add a few crab apples to the mix. Crab apples have a high pectin content and will help any jelly set. Good luck on your jelly making journey!

  4. Enola,
    Each of the four subgenera's hips, of the species Rosa, have distinctly different tastes along with their individual smells.
    God and Nature not only provides us with a floral
    source of Vitamin C and Iron, but also the opportunity to create unique palatable blends of flavors by admixture. It is recommended to deter the tart bitterness, to not press to release or grind the seeds, but rather to squeeze the hips to draw off their nutrients after simmering them.
    Those same hips that you said you annually watched wither on the plants, if picked either green or before they turn darkened and moldy from the rain, make wonderful hot teas.
    For making tea they may be used fresh (green) or dried. Once slow dried on a baking sheet in a very low low oven temp or dehydrator at 95 degrees until they are crinkly on the outer skins, you can airtight store and metal can these, and use them all year. For fresh tea brewing, steep a tablespoon or two of rinsed clean hips in a cup of boiling water for about 10 minutes. To make tea using dried hips, use two teaspoons to a cup of boiling water and steep for 10 to 15 minutes.

    Sweeten with clover honey and smell the aroma of summer roses all winter long!
    Other uses for hips are, making wine, soup, and syrups. Rhubarb, persimmons, pears, kiwi, and pomegranates are great complementary additives for making hip based thicker jellies.
    I planted several non-hybrid indigenous varieties all around the back perimeter of our pond, close to the apiary. The butterflies and the bees make the blooms flourish and we gather and trade the hips with another farmer who has different varieties.
    Wild rose varieties are more flavorful than hybrids.


  5. As someone who has rheumatoid arthritis, this post really hit home with me. I have been trying to store medications for post-EOTWAWKI, but knew that I could never store enough. Since rose hips may ease the swelling and therefore the pain of RA, I will give this recipe a try. Thank you so much, Enola!

    NoCal Gal

  6. Just a quick question. I think vitamin C is very susceptible to destruction by heat. Doesn't all this processing destroy the C content? It does look fabulous and I love the spoon.

  7. I thought rose hips had enough pectin in them to supplement store bought stuff? I've read this before and an aunt of mine used to make the jelly herself, although thinking it over, it might depend on the type of rose the hips came from... On a side note, the fine little hairs that are in the rose hips were made into itching powder back in the day (the hairs are an irritant to humans a few animals).

  8. I also harvested rose hips this year. I cooked them down and froze the pulp/juice in ice cube trays. I will add the cubes to our tea in the winter to enhance flavor and immune support. The jelly looks lovely and delicious!

  9. quick question, do the rose hips have to be all the dark orange color before you start to use. I found a huge bush but most are still yellow.

  10. NoCal Gal;
    I was thinking of you when I wrote that bit about Rheumatoid Arthritis! I was thinking about it, and if it were me, I think I would pick rose hips, dry them, grind them in a coffee grinder and encapsulate them in gel caps. The encapsulators are very inexpensive and so are the gel caps. It would provide a steady, easily used dosage. And I think it would store well. Just a thought.

    I'm not sure about the Vitamin C and heat. I'll have to do some checking on that.

    Rose hips definitely vary in color, but I would wait until their color deepens. A week or so should do it!


  11. Enola, you are truly the most thoughtful person I know. Never considered encapsulating them, but will investigate that process next week. Thank you!

    NoCal Gal

  12. I attempted peach jelly this year, my first jelly ever. I used pectin, but it didn't set at all. It was very disappointing. I had no idea that you could simply heat jelly to a certain temperature to achieve that. Do you think I could open my "syrup" jars, and heat them and re-process them in order to have jelly? I figured we'd use the syrup in oatmeal, baking recipes, and on ice cream. If life gives you lemons, right?

  13. Can dried rose hips be made into jelly looking everywhere for a recipe.