Rose Hip Jelly

I’ve never seen as many wild rose hips as I saw in the upper Skeena watershed of British Columbia this fall. I was there to fish for steelhead and I suppose I might have earned a few raised eyebrows if I’d put down my rod and spent the rest of the trip picking hips, but when opportunity knocked I made sure to fill a bag. The banks of the Kispiox River in particular were covered with the bright red globes. No doubt Mister Griz was picking his own share.

A rose hip is the seed pod of the rose, and nearly as attractive as the flower it replaces. It’s famously loaded with vitamin C. Last year I made rose hip syrup. This year, jelly.

My first morning in steelhead camp I awoke to a shiny white veneer covering the ground. Rose hips gleamed in the sun. This is the best time to harvest your hips—after a hard frost. The hips endured a long drive back to Seattle and a month in the freezer, but this didn’t seem to matter.

Back home I did a little research before realizing that, as with most jellies and jams, a recipe is merely a guideline. Add and subtract according to your own taste. If I’d had another lemon I would have squeezed in more lemon juice. I used less sugar than many recipes because I like the tanginess of the hips. I chose jelly for the warm, diaphanous color, because it was easiest, and I was short on time, but a marmalade-like jam would be a good choice too.

If I had not have been so focused on the giant wild steelhead finning around in the river beside me, I might have picked a more reasonable amount of rose hips to preserve, certainly no less less than 8 cups. As it turned out, I came home with a scant 6 cups. Consider doubling the amounts below for best use of your time.

6 cups rose hips
4 cups water
2 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 packet pectin
1/3 cup lemon juice (1 lemon)
3 to 4 8-oz canning jars

1. Wash and stem the rose hips, then cover with water (4 cups in this case) in a stainless steel pot and simmer for an hour or so until the hips are soft and easily mashed with a potato masher.

2. Strain the liquid. A jelly bag is ideal, but a combination of strainers and cheese cloth will get the job done. I used a food mill for the first pass and then lined a fine mesh strainer with a double layer of cheese cloth. After the liquid passed through I balled up the remaining mash and squeezed out the juice. The point is to extract as much juice and as little pulp as possible. This yielded 2 cups of juice.

3.  Return juice to pot. Add lemon juice and pectin and bring to a boil. Add sugar and continue to boil for a minute or so while stirring. Remove from heat, skim off any foam, and immediately ladle into sterilized jars.

4. Secure lids and process jars in hot bath for 10 minutes.

19 thoughts on “Rose Hip Jelly

  1. Michelle J

    I made rose hip wine for the first time last year and it’s coming along really well. I also fell about 1/2 cup short on rose hips for my recipe, so I made up the difference with half of an apple. It seems neutral enough for my purposes and the apple and the rose are botanical cousins after all. 😉

  2. LC

    Michelle J – Seems like a lot of folks make use of the botanical cousin connection–there are tons o’ recipes all over the Interwebs for rose hip-apple jam. Nice effort with the wine!

    Buttercup and Bee – Good on ya! Report back.

    cauldrons and crockpots – I believe in the elixir. Vitamin C for what ails ye.

    Laurie – It is a comforting color. Looks almost too good to eat…nah.

  3. sally

    I harvested a bunch of rose hips just yesterday and thought all I needed to do was appreciate their stark beauty. I see that there’s more. Your jelly is gorgeous.

  4. danielle.

    i just discovered your blog last night and have devoured the archive! there don’t seem to be many people blogging about wildcrafting (particularly in the PNW), and your recipes look delicious! i am going to try your chanterelle soup this weekend! thanks for all the great ideas.

  5. Jessa

    I have a massive amount of rose hips that are ALMOST red in the back yard and have been looking for a good recipe.

    When you say a “marmalade-like jam” do you mean that you would leave some of the hips in (like you would bits of citrus rind)? I’d imagine you have to seed them somehow? Work-intensive, that.

    I’ve used hips in addition to other ingredients in recipes, but never as the main flavor. Might have to remedy that soon.

  6. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Christine Sause

    I just finished reading the book – devoured it actually! I posted a short but very positive review of it on my site – and became a follower. Funny thing – while clicking on the follower button I happened to notice a randomly chosen thumbnail pic of one of your 400+ followers below. He looked familiar – and he was! A long lost friend from the past! Thanks for the reunion!

  7. Anonymous

    I went out this weekend to pick some rose hips and noticed quite a few of them had small black spots. Should I avoid these or would they be ok to use for the jelly recipe?

  8. LC

    Hank – The color makes me want to do a back flip off the high dive right into the jar, know what I mean…

    Sally – So many hips, so little time…

    Danielle – We’re having the soup tomorrow (T Day). It’s a crowd pleaser.

    Jessa – No, use a food mill on the hips to remove seeds, skins, etc., but add citrus rinds and whatever else you like in a marmalade.

    Christine – Great story, and thanks for the review. I’m on my way over to Sauce Pan to check it out!

    Anonymous – I’ll pare away black spots and other deformities but not get too worried about it. Good luck!

    Dining Table – NW BC is a place worth visiting for sure. Try the jelly too.

  9. Anonymous

    Rose hips are a survival food. Here in the Willamette Valley wild roses are everywhere and it isn’t uncommon that a single bush would have over a quart of rose hips on it. Check back in Fedruary and MArch and April and you will still see those rose hips on the bush. They will be slightly wrinkled but still edible and loaded with sugar and vitamins. With a little practice you can pick them popping them into your mouth and seperating the seeds scarping off the fruit and spitting them out. You won’t get fat doing this but with half an hour of foraging you can get full. I always partake of the wild foods in season but rose hips are in season when almost nothing else is.

  10. Julia

    Beautiful jelly. I missed out on the rosehips this year. I don’t know why there were tons in August and a month later they were all gone? Deer?

  11. Anonymous

    My rose hip jelly and syrup taste just like tomato soup? Not what I was expecting at all. I’ve made rose hip tea for years although I add other flavorings so maybe I just didn’t notice the tomato-like flavor. Someone suggested eating them raw right from the bush but on several occasions I have gotten the little hairs that are inside of dry rose hips caught in my throat and it isn’t a very pleasant sensation. Maybe some rose hips have fewer of these?

  12. Unknown

    I have been making rose hip “jam” for years, but actually it is more like rose hip butter like the apple butter one makes.Great on toast or pancakes or ice cream!I can’t imaagine why peope say wait for frost before picking. Here they are completely shriveled up and gone by then. I pick them when they are ripe in late August or very early September. I do use equal sugar and prepared thick pulp (4 1/2 cups) and one package of Certo. I came up half a cup short of pulp and added 1/2 cup apple juice!


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