|Rose hips, ready for harvesting.|
Rose hips are funny things. Some people look at them and can't imagine they're edible. Others look and say how much like a miniature apple they look. Roses are in the same plant family as apples, thus the similarity. And, like ancient apples, rose hips have flavor. Some hips taste better than others, varying by variety of the rose.
|Rose hips on a beach rose bush.|
For example, the hips of what I call, "Beach roses" (Rosa rugosa sp.) are quite large. When I found these on the beach in Rhode Island, I was amazed at the size of the hips, not quite as large as a golf ball, but not missing it by much. The roses are planted to prevent beach erosion on both the East and West Coasts and for awhile I had beach roses from both coasts. I gathered seed and brought them home and planted them, 15 or 20 years ago.
|Single flowers with delicious fragrance and flavor, beach roses also produce excellent hips.|
Here in the Ozarks where I live, beach roses don't produce quite as large hips as they did in the sea air, but they are still substantial. Best of all, many of the Rugosa varieties rebloom throughout the season, so not only is there a constant supply of fragrant and flavorful rose petals, but also a continuing supply of rose hips.
Rose hips can be made into jelly, jam, syrup and dried for hot tea in winter. The hips, or fruit, of any rose can be used this way. The outer peeling has a flavor somewhat like an orange or apple, but the seed are often a bit bitter.
To dry rose hips, harvest them when they turn deep orange or red, but before they begin to shrivel and turn brown. Split the hips open and scrape out the seeds. Use the cleaned rose hips immediately for jam or jelly. For use in tea, dry the seeded rose hips until they are crisp and store in an airtight container in a darkened place, such as the pantry or kitchen cabinet.
Here's a delicious rose hip jam recipe for you to try. It's more like a marmalade. The apple and orange add some pectin, which thickens the jam, so you don't need to use commercial pectin for this.
Rose Hip Marmalade
2 quarts fresh (not dried or dehydrated) rose hips
1 green apple, like Granny Smith
Zest and juice of 2 lemons
6 cups water
5 cups sugar
Six to seven half pint canning jars and new lids, sterlized
Remove the end, tough parts of each hip. Cut rose hips in half, removing and discarding the seed. Put the rose hips into a food processor and pulse blend once or twice to barely chop. You will need 4 cups of these processed rose hips.
Cut the unpeeled apple in half, removing and discarding the core. Cut apple into chunks.
Cut off and discard the ends of the orange. Slice the orange into slices, then dice the slices, removing any seeds. Add the apple chunks and orange pieces (peel and all) into the food processor with the roses hips. Pulse-blend 2 or 3 times until everything is coarsely chopped.
Place the hips, apple and orange into a wide, 8-quart cooking pot. Add lemon zest and lemon juice, then the water and bring mixture to a hard boil. Continue boiling, partly covered (be sure to not let it boil over) for 30 minutes or until the orange peel is tender.
Prepare a large pot of water, big enough to hold all of your jars (not stacked) with water covering. Bring that to a boil.
Add the 5 cups of sugar to the hot marmalade and heat again to boiling, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add 1/2 teaspoon of butter, which will keep the marmalade from foaming. Reduce the heat from boiling to medium and continue boiling for about 25 minutes.
Ladle the mixture in to the hot, sterilized canning jars. Wipe the rips of the jars with a clean, damp towel, then screw on (new) canning lids. Only tighten firmly, don't over-tighten or it will ruin the seal. Put the jars into the boiling pot of water, making sure the water just covers the lids and let the water simmer for 5 minutes. Remove with canning tongs and set on a clean, dry towel on the kitchen counter. Let cool overnight. Your marmalade is now ready to put in the pantry until ready to use. (Check by thumping on each lid, to make sure each has sealed. If one jar didn't seal, put that in the refrigerator and use it first).
The Herb of the Year is a project of the International Herb Association. Visit their website for more information.