Fall is a lovely time to gather the bounty of the earth and gives you an excuse to go rambling in nature. If you have a bunch of beach roses with bright red hips or dog roses that are growing in your area, then you have the makings for rose hip jelly!
Large, flat-bottomed kettles (6 to 8 quart)
Half-pint or pint jars and new, 2-piece lids (sterilize these in your water bath canner by boiling for 10 minutes) along with a funnel (also sterile). Never reuse jar lids, and discard any rusted or bent screw bands.
A jelly bag and stand OR cheesecloth or muslin and a colander
4 pounds ripe rose hips (1 pound of hips will produce about 1 cup of juice)
5 cups sugar (or thereabouts)
½ cup store-bought lemon juice
1 envelope of powdered pectin
First, Extract the Rose Hip Juice
Chop off the stem and blossom remnant from the hips. Clean them in cool running water. Then cut the rose hips in half, or run them in batches through a food processor to roughly chop them. Don’t worry about the seeds or any of that – they’ll get strained out later.
In a large stockpot, add rose hips and add enough water to just cover them.
Bring water to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes until they’re soft. Don’t overboil – this destroys pectin as well as vitamins and nutrients.
Mash them in the pan with a potato masher (be careful, they’re hot) or run them through a food processor until they’re roughly chopped.
Strain the pulp through a damp jelly bag, or put muslin in a colander over a large pot to catch the juice. Don’t squeeze the pulp because you want beautiful clear jewel-like jelly. (If you squeeze it, you get more juice, but it’s cloudy, and then you’re making jam!) Leave the pulp to drip overnight. Then strain the juice a second time to catch all the tiny, irritating hairs that reside in the rose hips.
Next, Add Juice and Sugar
Add enough water to bring the juice in the stockpot up to 4 cups. Use ¾ cup sugar for each cup of juice. Add lemon juice and pectin! Stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves.
Then bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and boil hard for 1 minute. You might wear an oven mitt while stirring to protect your hand. As the rose hip jelly thickens, stir often so it doesn’t scorch.
To check for doneness, dip a cool metal spoon into the boiling jelly and raise it above the kettle so it’s out of the steam. Turn the spoon sideways. At first, the jelly will drip off. The jelly is done when the syrup slides off the spoon, not in drops, but in a sheet.
Remove from heat and skim any foam from the surface.Pour the finished jelly carefully into the sterile jars, leaving a quarter to a half-inch of headspace in each one. Wipe the jar rims so they’re clean. Put on the ring and lid and tighten.Place the jars into a water bath in a large kettle with a perforated rack in the bottom of the pot for the jars to sit on. (If they sit directly on the bottom of the kettle, they might break.) Leave space between the jars so the water can move freely between them.
Make sure the jars are covered by at least one or two inches of water. Bring them to a boil, then keep them at a light boil for five minutes.
Shut off the burner and use a jar lifter to take the jars out of the water. Set them out of the way on a towel or wooden board and let them cool. If you hear the lids pop, congratulations, they’ve created a vacuum seal that keeps out food poisoning! Leave them alone for 12 hours before moving them.
Once they’ve cooled, write the date and year they were canned on your lid. They’re best if used within a year of being canned.
Before opening, press on the lid with your finger. It should stay depressed. If you’re able to pop the lid up and down with your finger, that means the vacuum seal is broken and the contents might be unsafe. You should throw out the jelly inside the jar.