Rose hips are one of those wild edibles that are around us all the time. They are the fruit of a pollinated rose, and wild roses are a pretty widely invasive species. Odds are good that there are some rose hips in close proximity to your home–though they might be in your neighbor’s yard.
Rose hips have a bit of sweet, tart flesh, but that flesh is wrapped around a big packet of hairy seeds. They are not the most delightful fruit to eat by themselves. You certainly can eat them straight from the bush, but they tend to be more commonly consumed in teas and jellies. They are high in vitamin C, though I often feels as if that is the go-to phrase to show the health benefits of any wild edible. What isn’t high in vitamin c? Are any of us really hurting for vitamin C these days?
Identification of rose bushes is pretty simple, which makes finding rose hips doubly simple. I won’t go into that too much here, there are surely plenty of better resources out there for identifying rose hips. Look for the canes covered in those little sickle-like thorns. Rose hips look like large red berries.
GIven those sickle-like thorns, do be careful when harvesting rose hips. A good set of gardening gloves would probably be a good idea. No matter how careful you are, you are likely to end up with a few small wounds. I certainly did in the making of this jelly.
One more note for harvesting: rose hips are actually best after a few freezes. When fresh, the fruit is hard. This makes it tough to clean and tough to mash. Once they have been on the cane a while and have gone through a couple frosts, they actually improve in quality. They sweeten and the flesh softens to the slightly grainy texture of a date. The softer flesh also makes them easier to pick and clean.
Below you will find a recipe for rose hip jelly and rose hip jelly hallongrotta. The word hallongrotta literally translates to raspberry cave, which is just wonderful. Here in the States, we typically refer to these jelly-filled delights as thumbprint cookies. The jelly is wonderful and tart, which pairs beautifully with the sweet, buttery shortbread.
My jelly did not set for me the first time I tried it. I rescued it with some additional pectin and a longer boil, but the second addition of pectin was too much, and it over-set. I have since updated the recipe to include a bit about sheeting. At the time that I made this, I was unfamiliar with the concept of sheeting. It seems that this is the trick to determining when jelly or jam is ready to go into the jar. You will find that concept explained in the jelly directions.
Rose Hip Jelly
2 quarts rose hips
6 cups water
½ cup fresh lemon juice
1 package pectin
3 ½ cups sugar
You’ll need to make the jelly at least a day or two in advance to allow it time to set properly.
Begin by washing and trimming your rose hips. Take off the stems and hairy bits–no need to have that stuff in the mixture. Once washed, toss them into the pot with your six cups of water and boil for at least an hour until they are soft.
Once they are soft, you will remove them from heat and mash them with a potato masher.
Take the mash and drain it using a sieve over a pot. Your goal here is to collect all those good juices without too much of the fiber and schmutz. You can do this with a jelly bag or cheesecloth if you have them (and likely to better result), but I did alright without any special equipment. Let is drain for an hour or so until you have something like 3 cups of juice. If you come up short, you can apply gentle pressure to the draining rose hip mash. If that still isn’t enough, add a bit of boiling water, mix it around, and add more pressure.
When you have 3 cups of juice (or juice diluted with a bit of water), dump it into your pot. Add the lemon juice and pectin, and bring this to a boil. Once boiling, add your sugar in a few batches, stirring until it dissolves.
Bring the jelly back to a boil. Boil it until you begin to see sheeting when you dip a spoon in. This shows that it is properly thickened and will set when cooled. When you dip a spoon into the mixture and hold it sideways, it should drip in two places which converge into one drip–that is sheeting. If you dip you spoon and it drips only in the center, it is not ready.
Once you start to see sheeting, remove it from heat and pour it into your sterilized jars, leaving ¼ inch of space at the top and leaving the screwtop very slightly loose. Shut them and boil, submerged in water by about an inch, for ten minutes. Remove from the pot, tighten the lids, and put up to cool.
1 ¾ cup flour
½ tsp baking powder
1.5 sticks butter
⅔ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup rose hip jelly (or any other jelly or jam you please)
Mix together the flour, salt, and baking powder. In a second bowl, cream the sugar and butter together. If you have a hand mixer, you can use this to whip things up. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients a bit at a time, mixing all the while.
When everything is combined, roll the dough into one-inch balls. Place these two inches apart on a baking sheet. Press your thumb into the center of each to the desired depth (the deeper you push, the larger your jelly reservoir–I say go for a lot of jelly).
Bake the cookies at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until the edges are golden.