In August, when the rose hips were ripe and ready to harvest, I filled a basket with about two pounds of hips. The plan was to make my grandmother’s recipe for jelly. It was one that she learned to make from a friend and handed down to me and I remember making it with her while we stood side by side in the kitchen.
Her recipe called for soaking then simmering the hips in white wine until soft, then strained them through a jelly bag. Sugar was added and all was brought to a rolling boil. Once it reached jelly stage, my grandmother instructed me to place a rose geranium leaf in each glass jelly jar – the ultimate ambrosial finishing touch – before the hot jelly was poured and jars sealed.
Jelly is a bit old-fashioned for my tastes, I prefer a thick, chunkier spread and created a recipe for citrusy marmalade. My recipe takes a bit more time to trim the tops and remove the seeds of the rose hips; and certainly not as easy as strawberry or blueberry jam. The orange and lemon peels plus the small wedge of apple create a natural pectin, plus brings out the flavor. Rose hips already have lots of natural Vitamin C and the citrus gives the jam an extra boost.
Rose Hip and Citrus Jam
Makes 6 cups
6 cups ripe rose hips
1 (small) green apple
6 cups water
5 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon butter
To prepare the rose hips, trim the scraggly end, and cut in half. Scrape out the seeds and discard. Roughly chop; there should be about 4 cups clean, chopped rose hips.
Cut the end off the oranges and lemon, and slice lengthwise into wedges. Remove any seeds and then cut each wedge in half to make bite-sized little triangles. Keep the peels intact, as this adds pectin. Grate the apple with a cheese grater, peels included.
In a deep 8-quart stock pot, combine the rose hips, orange, lemon, and apple, add the water, and bring the mixture to a boil. Simmer at boiling for about 30 minutes, or until the fruit become soft and can be cut easily without resistance.
Turn off the heat. Measure out the sugar and stir with a wooden spoon to combine. Return the heat to high, and keep stirring until sugar is dissolved. Add butter (which reduces foam), reduce the heat slightly, and continue to cook over medium high until the jam reaches 220° on a jelly thermometer. This may take 15 minutes. Do not overcook, as it will give it an odd taste.
Ladle the jam into hot, sterilized canning jars (which can be done in a hot water bath or dishwasher). With a wet cloth, wipe the jars clean, seal them with hot lids leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Flip over to fully seal jars, then back to right side.
To prevent mold, you can process in a hot water bath for 5 minutes. As the jars cool, you will hear a popping sound that indicated the lids are fully sealed.