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Mainely Tipping Points

Turkey Tracks: Rugosa Rose Hip Jam

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Turkey Tracks:  August 22, 2011

Rugosa Rose Hip Jam

I’ve been thinking about Rugosa Rose Hip Jam for the past…5 years or so.

When we moved to Maine, we bought a house on the side of a steep hill.  There’s an astonishing drop off–held in place by a large-boulder rock wall- to a small field below in the front yard, where our drainage field is located.   With visions of very young grandchildren tumbling down this death trap, we planted the slope with rugosa roses and bayberry.  Two years ago, we added another row of plants:  raspberries.

The whole slope is now impenetrable–we called it the chicken briar patch since the chickens love it so much.  They feel safe in there.  The raspberries are THRIVING on their attention, and since we’ve released the chickens from their summer pen, the June bug count has diminished significantly.

The rugosa’s hips began to catch my eye as the years passed.   For several years I thought one should wait until after the first frost as they’d be sweeter.  I read that in several places actually.  One year I collected the hips and dried them for winter nutritional teas–they’re full of vitamin C–but I never made any.  (I love my black tea with wild honey and real heavy cream too much.)  Also, it seemed to me that by the time the first frost came, the hips were all dried out and moldy looking.  Last year I got as far as finding information and recipes.

Did you know that roses are in the apple family?  I didn’t.

Here’s what some of the hips looked like on Sunday:

As you can see, a lot of them are as big as crab apples and are very red and ripe looking.   One simply must do SOMETHING with such luscious looking fruits.  So, I picked the ones that were ripe and refound the recipes.

Prepping the hips is VERY labor intensive.  You cut them in half and scrape out the seeds.  There are TONS of seeds.  I made cups of tea for John and me, and we sat outside and chatted while I prepped the hips.  It was a beautiful afternoon.

Here’s a picture of the prepped hips and the TONS of seeds and the very sharp paring knife with which I did not poke myself, though I came close a few times :

Penny joined us, as she usually does.  Miss Reynolds Georgia won’t give up her watch dog perch upstairs looking out the bedroom window.  She’s also sure it’s very dangerous outside the house–unless one is going to be taken for a ride in the car or if one has to pee:

I  cast the seeds out over the back hill/slope.  Who knows?  We have rugosas sprouting all over the place all the time here.

Rose Hip Jam

The next step is to put about an equal amount of water as one has hips and cook the two together until one has a mushy pulp.  That takes about 20-30 minutes.  I didn’t put enough water at first, and I noticed I was getting a kind of syrupy mixture.  Interesting.

Then, one has to decide what to do with the pulpy mixture.  I tried a food mill, but that didn’t work.  Too much thick pulp, too much loss.  I scraped everything into the Vita Mix, which is a very powerful blender/chopper, added a bit more water, and pulverized it all.  I had about 2 1/2 cups of pulp.

One then adds an equal amount of sugar, and I did (though I usually don’t) as I couldn’t imagine that this pulpy mass would taste nice.  I almost burned the mixture on the sides of the pans until I realized what was happening and scraped the sides down with a spatula.

Then, one cooks the mass until it begins to “jelly” according to directions.   Or, coats the spoon well.  The candy thermometer wasn’t especially helpful since the mass didn’t melt down like a berry jelly or jam does.   The mass began to coat the spoon and jell up on the plate, and it turned a deep pumpkin color that was lovely.  So, I jarred it up.

Here it is cooling:

I don’t know what I expected Rose Hip Jelly/Jam to taste like.  I had imagined a clearer jelly for one thing.  And, maybe a lemony, sharp taste, subdued by the sugar.

Well!  It’s delicious.  It tastes a lot like apple butter, but it’s different too.  There is, after all, a subtle lemony taste in there.  Both texture and color are like that of a roasted pumpkin, but not the taste.  I can definitely see using it as a cake filling, which one of the recipes suggests.  I really like it, actually, and would definitely use it on morning toast, or on oatmeal porridge, or during afternoon tea spread on something tea-like.

So, I’ll keep my eye on the hips that are still ripening and make another batch in weeks to come.

Written by louisaenright

August 22, 2011 at 6:54 pm

One Response

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  1. I grew up in England devouring rose hip syrup which was given to all the kids for vitamin c…it was DELICIOUS and you just bought it at the chemist’s…I bet they still have it…. so last year I decided to make my own…I encountered all the things you ran into and ended up with a not very satisfying result but now I will try this ‘jam’ instead. Thanks for posting…

    Patricia Shea

    August 22, 2011 at 10:02 pm


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