It was a bit of a wrench picking the hips from the wild roses because they looked so beautiful glowing in the autumn sun, but I consoled myself with the thought that they’d shrivel and drop off soon anyway and I’d be conserving their flavour through the winter, suspended in an amber jelly.
I picked 500g, leaving plenty behind for any hungry wildlife. This jelly is usually made with the fruit of the dog rose, the British native that grows wild in hedgerows. If you’re planning to use other varieties, do please check online as to their edibility.
Bear in mind, too, that the hairy seeds inside the hips can be a serious irritant, although that’s not a problem if you’re making jelly as you’ll strain them out. Pick ripe fruit but discard any that are rotten or badly blemished. Rosehips are a good source of vitamin C and pair well with the crab apples that form the base of this jelly. Try it with roast pork.
500g rosehips, topped and tailed and rinsed clean
1.5 kg crab apples, de-stalked but not peeled or cored
Up to 2 litres of water
Sugar (see method)
Chop the crab apples roughly but don’t peel or core them as the pectin in the skins and pips will help the jelly set. Add them to the pan and cover with water – I used just under 2 litres. I’ve written elsewhere about the jelly-making process but to save you looking it up, here it is again …
Bring gently to simmering point and cook until the fruit is soft and squashy. Remove from the heat and when it has cooled a little, pour into a scalded jelly bag suspended over a large bowl or jug. Allow it to drip slowly – don’t press the fruit or the jelly will be cloudy – just leave it for 12 hours or overnight.
Discard the pulp in the bag and measure the juice. For every 450ml/1 pint allow 450g/1lb of sugar. Return to the cleaned pan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved.
Then boil rapidly without stirring until setting point is reached: 105C/220F with a jam thermometer or when a spoonful put on a chilled saucer wrinkles, once it has cooled, when you push it with your finger. Skim the jelly and pot into sterilised jars. Seal straight away.