The size of the red or orange ripened fruit (the rosehip) of rose plants varies according to species. Multiflora roses are highly abundant along fields, producing pretty clusters of white roses, but tiny, fleshless hips that are only good for the birds. Most cultivated roses produce beautiful, complex flowers that are not appropriate for eating due to pesticide and chemical applications. The roses and rosehips we search for are the Rosa rugosa species, also known as beach roses or wrinkled roses. The flowers usually have 5 petals and are pink or white, and are fragrant and edible in salads. It is the orange-red, large fleshy rosehip that we seek out in the late summer for jelly. The fruit tastes a bit like apricots, and is rich in vitamin C, beta-carotene, malic and citric acid, fructose, and zinc.
The Rugosa rose is an invasive species, originally from Japan. It grows well along sandy dunes on the east coast from southern Canada to North Carolina and west to Wisconsin and the Great Lakes. It can be useful to prevent dune erosion on beaches, and makes good cover for wildlife with its many prickers and dense foliage. We found some beautiful ripe rosehips along the Westerly, Rhode Island beaches much sooner than we expected to. It seems they are following the trend this year of ripening earlier than usual. We had placed a Foraging Rosehips letterbox at Hamonassett Beach in Madison, Connecticut, but it went missing this spring.
The dark green serrated leaflets are heavily veined, or wrinkled, and there are 5 to 9 leaflets on each leaf. The stems are covered with straight, grey prickles, although younger stems are more hairy than prickery. The flowers are large and usually occur singly in summer. They have a whorl of 5 pink or white petals with yellow stamens in the centers. The rosehip forms under the flower in the late summer, turning from green to reddish-orange when ripe. The hips are filled with many seeds and fine hairs that we remove before working with the remaining fruit. We find that the hairs are a serious skin irritant, so we recommend using gloves when scooping out the innards of the rosehip.
Once we clean the seeds and hairs from the rosehips, we can use the fruit for a few purposes. Robert likes to chop them in the food processor and dry them for tea. We also made some wonderful jelly-23 jars! After the rosehips are simmered, steeped, and hung in the jelly bag to extract the juice, I am left with a large quantity of soft fruit. I then purée that fruit to make rosehip butter-18 jars! Robert also dried some rosehip seeds to make a tea high in vitamin C. We ended up with so many rosehips from our day at the shore, we had enough to make a 3 gallon batch of rosehip wine that is still bubbling away on the counter.
Rosehip Jelly makes 6c.
8 c. cleaned and de-seeded rosehips
6 c. water
1/2 c. lemon juice
1 box Sure*Jell pectin
3 1/2 c. sugar
1. Clean the rosehips by removing the stems, the flower ends, the seeds, and inner hairs. Place the cleaned rosehips in a large pot with the water.
2. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook 1 hour until the rosehips are soft. Mash the rosehips and allow them to cool.
3. Hang the purée in a jelly bag and allow to drip for an hour. You will need 3 cups of rosehip juice.
4. Add lemon juice and pectin to the rosehip juice in another pot. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Add all of the sugar at once, and bring back to a hard boil for 1 minute.
5. Remove the hot jelly from the heat, skim the foam from the top. Place the hot jelly in jars and process.