Foraged Apple & Rose Hip Jelly
It’s my favourite time of year, when the hedgerows and woodlands are full with food for the taking, so get ready for an onslaught of more foraging posts! First up, after my recent nettle seed post, I have a recipe for you for some apple and rose hip jelly. Not the kind of jelly you eat for dessert, the kind you spread on hot buttered toast.
If you don’t have any community orchards or public apple trees nearby, you can of course also use shop bought apples. But for the rose hips, you’re definitely going to have to go foraging. They’re fairly easy to identify, but as with any foraged food, don’t eat anything you’re not 100% sure of what it is!
Rose hips, by definition of growing on rose bushes, are surrounded by thorns, so be very careful when gathering them. I find they’re tricky to pick, as they cling to the branches, so I take along a pair of scissors to snip off the rose hips. It reduces the chances of being ripped to shreds by thorns a lot. Remember, be responsible when you are foraging! Don’t pick all the rose hips from one plant, leave some for the wildlife!
- 500g rose hips
- 1kg apples
- 1 lemon
- ca. 500 – 600g sugar
You’ll also need a jelly bag or sieve + muslin, a bowl to fit the jelly bag or sieve over, and a large saucepan.
This jelly is very easy to make. You just need the rose hips and apples, some lemon juice, and sugar. Rose hips are fairly low in pectin, which is what helps the jelly to thicken, but as apples are high in pectin they make up for the lack of it in the rose hips. The lemon juice helps too. If you were making pure rose hip jelly, you would probably need to add some pectin too, or use special sugar for jam and jelly making which contains pectin.
Trim the ends off the rose hips. This can be a bit time consuming, so when I’m gathering the rose hips I always try to pick the biggest ones as they are less fiddly to trim.
Word of warning: The seeds inside the rose hips are covered in tiny little hairs, that itch like crazy if you get them on yourself. I remember when I was a kid, they were used like itching powder and kids would stick them down each other’s shirts. For that reason, you also don’t want to swallow the seeds as having all those tiny little hairs itching the inside of your throat is not pleasant! But don’t worry, there is a way round this that does not involve painstakingly scooping out the insides of each rose hip.
Roughly chop the apples. If they’re very small apples, I just quarter them. If they’re large apples, you may want to cut them a bit smaller. There’s no need to peel or core them.
Place the prepped rose hips and apples in to a large saucepan, add enough water so they are just covered, then add another 250ml of water on top of that.
Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until both the rose hips and apples have softened.
Set up your jelly bag or sieve + muslin over a bowl. If you are using muslin, I recommend a double layer of muslin as muslin is not as fine as a jelly bag, to make sure you really catch all those tiny hairs (see above).
Transfer the cooked rose hips and apples, along with all the liquid, to your jelly bag or muslin lined sieve, and then you just let it sit and drip. There will be an initially rush, when the majority or liquid drips through, but if will keep slowly dripping after that, so do be patient and let it sit for a while as this is where a lot of the flavour comes out. We’re talking several hours, 10-12 hours is good. I usually either set this up in the morning to drip during the day, and then do Part 2 in the evening. Or I set it up in the evening to let it drip over night and then finish it up the next morning.
Do not be tempted to squeeze the bag/ muslin to speed things up! This will not only make your final jelly more cloudy, you also don’t want to risk squeezing any of the tiny hairs through.
Once your liquid has finish dripping, discard the remaining pulp. There’s nothing else you can do with this, because of the rose hip seeds and hairs. Try not to get it on your hands because…did I mention the hairs?
Measure the liquid, because you need to know exactly how many ml you have. I make this jelly with a ratio of 3:2, i.e. 3 parts liquid to 2 parts sugar. That means for every 300ml of liquid use 200g sugar. Some people prefer to use a ratio of 1:1 with equal parts liquid and sugar, and to be honest it’s so sweet already anyway it probably doesn’t make much difference, but I’m sticking with my 3:2 ratio. For this batch, I measured out 900ml of liquid + 600g sugar.
Place two or three large metal spoons in your freezer.
Place the liquid in a large saucepan along with the juice of the lemon and the sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil, to dissolve the sugar, then keep it at a boil for around 15 to 20 minutes, scooping off any foam that forms on the top.
To test if the jelly is ready, take out one of the chilled spoons from the freezer and with another spoon pour a little bit of liquid on to the chilled spoon. Leave it to cool for a minute, then push your finger through the liquid. If it starts to wrinkle, the jelly is ready. If not, return to the boil and try again after a few minutes.
Once the jelly is ready, pour in to sterilised jars, seal tightly, and leave to cool completely. We got 3 jars out of our latest batch, but it depends a little on the apples and how juicy they are, and how quickly you can get the jelly to setting point as the longer you need to boil it the more it will reduce.
Apple and Rose Hip Jelly is delicious on hot buttered toast, but it’s also really useful too as a glaze for roasting meats, or to serve with a cheeseboard.