Hip, Hip!

Rosa Rugosa delight

So, continuing our stroll through the mellow fruitfulness…

We come to…Rosa Rugosa rosehips

You know the ones – very spiky and at this time of year covered in MASSIVE enticingly red hips with big lavish green curly bits at the ends.

If you’ve ever investigated the innards of one of these hips you will know that each one contains zillions of seeds, and while the idea of separating the fleshy outer from the pippy inner sounds ok in theory, it is easier said than done. Also I suspect that the exceptional setting qualities of preserve made from Rosa Rugosa is derived from the high pectin content of said seeds.

So, having collected a satisfying bucket of hips, DO NOT attempt to deseed them. Remove stalks and the aforementioned green spiky bits from the ends, wash, and cook gently in enough water to cover till soft and falling apart nicely when attacked with a potato masher.

Pass everything sievable through a sieve fine enough to catch the seeds. Actually, you will find, after the potato mashing exercise, that the seeds all magically rise to the top of the pan and float on the surface so you can remove most of them with a slotted spoon, thus making the sieving stage less tedious.

As I said, sieve, sieve, sieve. This creates a thickish puree of rose-tinted gunk. If you sieve into a jug you can see how much gunk you actually have. Add the same amount of jam sugar. Put in a big preserving pan, adding juice of a lemon or two, depending on quantity. Stir gently over minimal heat till sugar is dissolved, and then bring up to the rolling boil beloved of jam-makers everywhere. You will then see why a LARGE pan is a good idea (as is a LONG handled wooden spoon).  Searing hot jam can give you a nasty burn, so wear welders mask and asbestos gauntlets if in doubtJ. Meantime, warm the jars to sterilize them, and scald the lids with boiling water.

Try for a set quite soon with this preserve – as I said, the pectin should be mega, and if you used jam sugar which has pectin in as well, you could be inventing a rapid-set superglue quite soon.

A nice addition to this rose and lemony conserve is some infusion made with the intense rose petals you thoughtfully collected and dried earlier in the summer for those occasions when mock Rose Pouchong tea, or a delicate tisane of lavender flowers and rose petals was called for. (These soothing and fragile brews will go awfully well with fluffy buttermilk scones, clotted cream and some of the rose conserve you are concocting now).

When right stage of thick gloopiness has been reached, decant into the warmed jars and seal with satisfaction and a pretty label.

Fantastic spooned out in a nice chilled ball (keep a jar in the fridge for this) with ice cream or, yum, thick real Greek yogurt over which you have lavishly sprinkled a little castor sugar – an amazing yet simple end to a meal. It also looks wonderful accompanied by a single, washed leaf of fresh Applemint.