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The Forgotten Fruit: Foraging Rose Hips

 

Rose hips are appealing because they are often forgotten.

These dense rose plants are known for their sprawling nature, taking over the dunes of New England in the summer time, peppering the coast with beautiful pink and white “beach roses”, and protecting our coast line from erosion. But, after the summer crowds thin out, after the flower blooms and falls, after everyone has left the beach – the rose hips remain.

So what are rose hips exactly? Rose hips are the hearty red fruit that develop from the hip of the rosa rugosa flower, ready to be harvested just after the first frost softens them up. Their color is celebratory – showing up earlier than your holly berries and Christmas reds, they are a brilliant, enticing orange-red that either screams “Don’t eat me! I am poisonous like a beautiful mushroom”, or “Do eat me! I’m delicious, like a round, ripe, summer fruit.” Luckily for us, they are edible and can be repurposed into something delicious or useful. Not to mention they are free and they are abundant here on the New England coast.

Rose hips have a singular effect Рnothing smells quite like them, and this humble, overlooked fruit is the base for many an expensive skincare product promising us new life in the form of wrinkle reduction, scar removal and skin brightening.

Another thing to know about rose hip oil – it doesn’t keep. That’s part of what makes it frustrating and part of what makes it beautiful. As with many of the most profound moments in life, you can’t take it with you. You can, however, turn it into something new and take that with you – for a little while, at least.

Our favorite thing to do with them?

We suggest making a jelly out of the fruit (simple recipe below) so that in February, when you dig it out of your pantry, the now muted red reminds you of former fall weather, and that a walk on the beach is best done in any season – all you have to do is get out there.

 

Rose Hip Jelly Recipe

Ingredients:

4 quarts ripe rose hips
8 cups water
Juice of 3 lemons
1 package pectin crystals
5 cups sugar
Cardamom* (optional)

Steps:

1. Gather the ingredients.
2. In a large saucepan, simmer rose hips in 8 cups water until they are soft.
3. Mash rose hips in the pan and strain through a jelly bag or several layers of dampened cheesecloth. This should make about 4 cups of rose hip juice.
4. Return rose hip juice to the pan and add lemon juice and pectin crystals*. Stir until mixture comes to a hard boil. Immediately add sugar, then bring to a full rolling boil and boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
5. Remove jelly from heat and skim off foam with a stainless-steel spoon.
6. Pour jelly into hot sterilized jars and process in a water bath, freeze for longer storage, or store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

*To add a little spice to your jelly, we suggest adding a dash of cardamom!