Monday, October 28, 2013

Using our Abundant Rose Hip Harvest

As I mentioned in "Providential Preparedness", this year the roses have produced fruit (rose hips) in abundant profusion.  They are everywhere - looking like small apples hanging from low-slung bushes.   Realizing that God doesn't provide unless there is a need, Sir Knight and I decided it would be wise to get rose hips while the gettin' was good.  We have spent the last few weeks transforming our rose hip harvest into many wonderful things - wine, jelly and dried hips (well, almost).

Our first order of business was wine making.  After picking pound after pound of rose hips, we lugged them home, plucked their stems, washed  and weighed them and prepared to make wine.  This is our first time making rose hip wine so I scoured the web for a recipe.  After looking over many, many recipes, I combined a couple of different ones and came up with one that looked good to us.

Our basic recipe is as follows:

Rose Hip Wine

4 pounds fresh rose hips
3 pounds sugar
1 gallon boiling water
1 tsp. black tea
1 tsp. wine yeast

Wanting more than 1 gallon of wine, we picked 19 pounds of rose hips.  We adjusted things here and there and this is the recipe we used:

19 pounds of rose hips
26 C sugar
4 1/2 gallons boiling water
4 tsp. pectic enzyme
1 pkg. wine yeast (Montrachet)

Sterilize (2) 5 gallon buckets and dived the rose hips between the two.

Add the sugar (divided between the two buckets) and the black tea (the black tea adds tannin - which naturally occurs in grape wine - and body to the wine.  Use 1 tsp. per gallon of wine for flower and grain wine).

At this point we also added the pectic enzyme.  The pectin enzyme is NOT required.  It does nothing to affect the taste, it serves only to keep the pectin (naturally present in rose hips) from congealing and making the wine cloudy.

Pour the boiling water (divided evenly between the two buckets) over the rose hips, sugar and tea.  Stir until the sugar has dissolved and gone into solution.

Cover tightly and allow to sit for 24 hours.

After the must (the wine liquid) has been allowed to sit for 24 hours, add the yeast (we split one package between our two buckets - 1 pkg. of wine yeast is good for about 5 gallons of wine).

Cover tightly for another 7 days, stirring once a day.

At the end of 7 days, strain the liquid through a strainer lined with cheesecloth into a demijohn or carboy.  Fit with an airlock and allow to ferment.

Rack (siphon) the wine after about 6 weeks into a clean demijohn, fix the airlock again and allow to ferment.  The wine will continue to "work" (bubble and ferment) for another 6 months or so.  If the fermenting appears to cease (there are no longer bubbles moving), rack again and see if it gets bubbly again.  If it does, allow to ferment some more.  It may take 2 or three rackings before it is ready to bottle.  When fermenting has ended, bottle and cork.  This wine (from what I have read) really needs to age for about two years - but then it is out of this world.  In two years, we will let you know what we think!

The "Must"

Straining into a demijohn

We found that it was easier to hold the rose hips back while straining

Straining through cheesecloth

The left-over rose hip sludge (this is why we strain through the cheesecloth)

This is the beginning of rose hip wine
While the wine was stewing in the buckets, we picked and cleaned more rose hips to turn into jelly and dry for tea.  After cleaning the rose hips, I measured them for jelly and spread the rest on newspaper lined cookie sheets to dry in the wood cookstove.  It has been warm here lately, so the cookstove has been shut down, barely boiling along.  It was cool enough that I put the rose hips in the cookstove oven to dry.  Occasionally I would pull the hips from the oven and roll them around on the cookie sheet so they would dry evenly.  They were looking wonderful!  And then I forgot about them and went to church.  By this time the weather had turned cooler and I had opened the drafts to get the cookstove roaring.  I remembered those rose hips in the middle of the worship service.  Needless to say, when we got home from church, there was not much left of my wonderful rose hips.  And so, I don't have any pictures to show you of perfectly dried rose hips.  I will, however, tell you what to do with the rose hips after they have been dried.

Rose hips spread on a cookie sheet, ready to dry

Drying in the wood cookstove

Dried Rose Hips

Dry the rose hips (whole), in something other than a hot wood cookstove.  A dehydrator works well, or a gas range with the pilot lit, should be fine.

After the rose hips are thoroughly dried, quickly whir them through a food processor (or coarsely chop them).

Shake the rose hips through a metal sieve (mesh) to remove all the little "hairs".

Store your coarsely ground dried rose hips in a jar and use at will.  A few teaspoons steeped in boiling water makes a lovely tea.

Back to the jelly.  I tried a new recipe this year and I think it turned out wonderfully.  Rose hip jelly has a slightly wild, sweet taste to it - not something to miss.

Rose Hip Jelly

8 C. Rose Hip liquid
2 tsp. lemon juice
3 box pectin (or 1 C bulk pectin) (for looser jelly could reduce to 2 boxes or 2/3 C bulk)
8 C sugar

To make the liquid:  Use 2 quarts of cleaned rose hips.  In a large pot, place the rose hips and enough water to cover well, plus a little extra.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.  Remove from the heat.

With the back of a spoon, gently press the rose hips against the side of the pot to release more juice.  Try not to cause the rose hips to burst (if they do, you'll just strain the seeds through cheesecloth).

Strain the juice through cheesecloth to measure 8 cups.  If you don't have 8 cups of liquid, use water to make up the balance.

To make the jelly:  Measure the rose hip liquid into a large pot, add the lemon juice and pectin.  Stir well.  Bring to a full, rolling boil, stirring constantly.  Stir in the sugar.  Continue to stir, return to a rolling boil and boil for 1 minute (timed from the beginning of the rolling boil).

Remove the pot from the heat.  Skim foam from the top and ladle jelly into jars.  Wipe thread and rims carefully, then top with prepared lids and rings.  Process in a water bath for 10 minutes.

Bring the rose hips to a boil

Gently pressing the hips with the back of a spoon

Straining through cheesecloth

I strained a second time - just to have clear jelly

Making jelly

Ready for the shelves!

So, there you have it - all of my rose hip recipes.  I hope you take time to gather the harvest and enjoy the abundant blessings of God.


  1. Beautiful! Thanks for sharing. Are rose hips found on all kinds of roses, or only certain kinds?

  2. Wow that is alot of the house smells great.

  3. I love this post. I do have a question. What type of roses did you get the rose hips from? I don't think I've ever seen rose hips this big on any of our suburban roses. I would like to plant some so I can harvest the rose hips, what would you recommend? Thanks,

  4. Fascinating...Is there a way to describe the taste? I just can't even imagine it!