Update: If canning is your “thing” be sure to visit my new growing, canning, and preserving site at Seed to Pantry. I’ll be adding new canning tips and techniques on a regular basis!
I am living proof that you can take the girl out of the Northeast, but it’s pretty difficult to take the thrifty Yankee out of the girl. In my house, leftover mashed potatoes become enchiladas, worn out towels are turned into pot holders, and beautiful, nutritious food – free for the taking – becomes jam.
Wild rose hips, also known as beach rose hips, are an excellent source of vitamin C. They also have a lovely, fresh floral aroma and a tangy taste that jumps off the tongue. And they are prolific in my front yard! I don’t mind sharing them with the birds, but this year I am also turning them into jam.
When picking rose hips there are a couple of things to keep in mind: 1) Use only the hips from wild roses (rosa rugosa). 2) Only use hips that have not been sprayed with insecticides. 3) Hips are easier to peel after they have been through a frost. In essence, Mother Nature preserves the hips right on the bush until you are ready to use them. 4) Be prepared to get stuck by thorns when picking the rose hips.
I started this recipe by picking 12 cups of big, beautiful rose hips.
Wash the hips, trim the ends, and peel them. There are a couple of different methods to peel the hips. You can hold the hip in one hand and use the other to pull off the skin and as much pulp as possible without breaking through into the seeds. Or you can cut the hips open and scrape out the seeds. Either way, this is a messy job – one that requires you to rinse your hands often.
Another, less tedious way to get the rose hip pulp is to push the trimmed hips through a sieve. However, I did not have a sieve that was small enough to prevent the seeds from going through. Cheesecloth did not allow enough of the pulp and skin to go through as I wanted – so I did it by hand.
Twelve cups of rose hips netted me about 2 cups of skin and pulp.
I used 6 apples of varying kinds. Wash, core and slice the apples, but no need to peel them. We are making an old-fashioned butter here. Besides, all the good nutritious stuff is in the peel, we don’t want to lose that!
Combine the sliced apples and rose hips in a large saucepot. Add enough water to prevent sticking (about 1 1/2 cups) and cook until apples are soft.
Remove the cooked apple/rose hip mixture from the heat and puree. I got about 6 cups of this ruby red puree. Return the puree to the saucepot, add 4 cups of sugar, 2 Tbsp of lemon juice and 1/8 tsp each of ground cloves and ground mace.
Cook until the mixture thickens (about 20 minutes) and then pour into hot 1/2 pint jars. Process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes.
If you like apple butter you will LOVE apple-rose hip butter. The rose hips not only add an appetizing color, they also add an extra flavor dimension that makes this butter truly special. Although it’s good enough to eat by the spoonful, apple-rose hip butter can be eaten on muffins or scones, added to cookies or cake recipes in place of some of the fat, served with pork chops, used as a ham glaze, added to BBQ sauce or served over ice cream. In fact, it’s so good, the food forager in me is wondering…….there’s still lots of rose hips left, what can I make next?