What to Do with Rosehips


Here is another foraged treat for you that I’m willing to bet some of you already find use for: rosehips from rosa rugosa, so plentiful along the shores in Maine. And this recipe avoids the unpleasantly itchy part of dealing with rosehips.

Rosa Rugosa are the sprawling, thorny, gorgeous, fragrant, pink roses that grow mostly wild in seacoast places, maybe inland, too, though I usually associate them with salty air. Lots of people plant them on purpose and their prickly nature makes them good barriers. Late in summer, fat orange rosehips form and gradually turn a deeper orange red hue. The hips are rich in vitamin C in case you feel a cold or a case of scurvy coming on

Years ago, I harvested rosehips in Sakonnet, RI, and made rosehip marmalade with lemons and oranges. The process, however, left my hands an itchy miserable mess as I scraped plentiful seeds out of the hips and encountered the prickly fuzz that they are lined with. The marmalade was delicious but I was cured for life of messing with rosehips. However, this week, a visitor in my household, Janusz Jaworsky, determined to harvest and process some rosehips. He made jelly.

He picked about three quarts. This time of year the hips are very ripe and some have begun to go by. Some have little maggots in them, so pick only the firmest and intact ones you can find. Janusz took off the tops and bottoms with a knife and encountered a little of the itchy hairs but he reported that it wasn’t bad. The chickens enjoyed scratching through the rejected parts. Then came the customary boiling, mashing, draining to obtain the juice.

For Janusz, who is here as a participant in the World Wide Opportunities in Organic Farming (WWOOF), eating rosehip jelly spread on bagels in New York City will be a reminder of a morning overlooking Penobscot Bay while filling a basket with wild fruit. And I will spread jelly on my Maine toast and remember Janusz at the kitchen table with rosehips piled up in front of him.

Rosehip Jelly
Serves: Five to six half-pints
  • 2 quarts cleaned rose hips
  • 1½ quarts water
  • ½ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 package pectin
  • ¼ teaspoon butter
  • 3½ cups sugar
  1. Wash the rose hips in clean water. Cut off the ends.
  2. Put the rose hips in a pot and add the water.
  3. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down to simmer and cover the pot.
  4. Simmer for an hour or until rose hips are soft enough to mash.
  5. Pour the mashed rosehips into a jelly bag or a strainer lined with cheese cloth and set over a bowl and let drip until no more runs out. Squeeze lightly to get remaining liquid.
  6. Measure out three cups of juice (add a little water if you don’t have enough) and put juice in a heavy bottomed, wide pot.
  7. Add the lemon juice and pectin and boil to dissolve all of the pectin.
  8. Add the sugar and when it has dissolved, add the butter.
  9. Bring to a hard boil and boil for exactly one minute.
  10. Remove from heat and fill sterilized canning jars, allowing ¼-inch head space. Put on lids and process in a boiling water bath for ten minutes.


Sandy Oliver

About Sandy Oliver

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working Waterfront. Besides freelance food writing, she is a pioneering food historian beginning her work in 1971 at Mystic Seaport Museum, where she developed a fireplace cooking program in an 1830s house. After moving to Maine in 1988, Sandy wrote, Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Foods at Sea and Ashore in the 19th Century published in 1995. She is the author of The Food of Colonial and Federal America published in fall of 2005, and Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving History and Recipes from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie which she co-authored with Kathleen Curtin. She often speaks to historical organizations and food professional groups around the country, organizes historical dinners, and conducts classes and workshops in food history and in sustainable gardening and cooking. Sandy lives on Islesboro, an island in Penobscot where she gardens, preserves, cooks and teaches sustainable lifeways.