Rose Hip Jam

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Kathleen Halloran
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Harvested in the fall, the reddish-orange hips of rugosa roses make a delicious tangy jam—loaded with fresh vitamin C. Learn more about rose hips and how to make this recipe.

What are rose hips? They are seed pods of roses! If you leave the spent flowers on your rose bush, look closely, and you will see small berry-sized balls on the tip of the stems. They turn orange-red at maturity. 

We usually use the hips of Rugosa roses. They have the largest, most abundant, and best-tasting hips. However, all rose hips are edible. Ensure you never harvest hips from a plant sprayed with pesticides or chemicals. You can also buy dried rose hips.

What do rose hips taste like? They have a bit of the tartness of a crab apple; roses are in the same family as apples and crab apples, which is why their fruits resemble mini crabapples. Rosehip jam is a delicious spread on toast, in yogurt, with game meat, on ice cream, with oatmeal, in pancakes, or on a cheese sandwich!

How do you harvest rose hips? If you have your own rose bushes, harvest in the fall. You’ll want to pick just after the first light frost has nipped the leaves, but before you experience a hard frost that freezes the hips solidly. It’s a short window, but this is when the recipe hips are sweetest.

  • You’ll need a knife or scissors. Make sure to wear garden gloves as roses are thorny!
  • Cut the rose hips off the plant with a knife or scissors, cutting the stem just above the top of the hip.  Then, off both the blossom and stem ends.
  • Slice the hips in half with scissors. You need to scrape out the seeds and the tiny hairs inside the hips, which can irritate your mouth and intestines if you don’t remove them. 
  • Rinse off the rose hips in a colander with cool water. Dry completely. And then get ready to use or freeze for later use.

Below is our recipe for Rose Hip Jam. If you have extra rose hips, you can also make tea! Just steep 4 to 8 rose hips in a cup of boiling water for 10 to 15 minutes.

rose hips (with black ends removed)
equal amount of sugar by weight
water (1 cup per 1 pound of rose hips)
  1. Use a heavy, stainless-steel saucepan. (Do NOT use aluminum.) Add water and rose hips, and simmer until the fruit is tender.
  2. Drain and rub rose hips through a fine sieve, then measure pulp and return it to the saucepan with equal sugar. Simmer until thick.
  3. Pour into hot, sterilized, half-pint jars and seal. Learn more about the process of water-bath canning.
  4. Store in a cool cupboard, and use within six months; refrigerate after opening.
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