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Fruit of the rose yields delicious treat

Make a small batch of jelly from the garden. The rose is Rainbow Sorbet, a floribunda, one of many used in this jelly. (Photos: Debbie Arrington)

Recipe: Rose hip jelly tastes (surprise!) like hibiscus

It’s harvest time in the rose garden. A byproduct of annual pruning: Rose hips.

Rose hips
Rose hips come in many shapes and sizes.

Rose hips are the fruit of the rose and are packed with flavor and vitamin C. A cup of raw rose hips contains 12 times as much vitamin C as a whole orange.

In nature, rose hips are deer candy. Deer can’t resist these little red or orange nuggets. (That’s why rose bushes have sharp prickles; so hungry animals won’t eat the whole plant.)

It’s not surprising that rose hips are tasty. Roses come from the same family as apples, pears, quinces, loquats, almonds, peaches, apricots, plums and cherries.

But rose hips don’t taste like roses – or any of those other fruit. They have a more tropical taste similar to hibiscus, the main flavoring of Red Zinger tea (which also contains rose hips).

Speaking of Red Zinger, the most common use of rose hips is dried in tea. Trimmed hips can be dried quickly in a dehydrator or slowly on a windowsill.

If you have a lot of rose hips, consider making rose hip jelly. Use only hips from roses that are pesticide free; in particular, don’t use hips from roses treated with systemic pesticides. (The chemicals find their way into all parts of the plant.)

Rose hips have little or no natural pectin. That’s where their cousin apples come in. In this recipe, apples add some natural pectin as well as making up for lack of fresh rose hips.

The result is a flavorful jelly that tastes like a spoonful of tropical sunshine. Who knew it came from a rose garden?

Trimmed rose hips
The rose hips are trimmed for the recipe.

Rose hip jelly

Makes about 4 half-pints


4 cups rose hips and apples
6 cups water plus more as needed
½ cup lemon juice
6 tablespoons (1 package) powdered pectin
¼ teaspoon butter
3-1/2 cups sugar


With a sharp paring knife, trim rose hips, removing stem and calyx (the pointy crown) on the blossom end. Rinse.

Measure trimmed rose hips. Remove stems from apples, but don’t peel or core. Quarter apples. Add enough apples to rose hips to bring total to 4 cups prepared fruit. Mixture should be primarily rose hips, but include at least two apples.

In a large heavy pot, put prepared rose hips and apples. Add 6 cups water. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to simmer. Cook on gentle heat until rose hips are soft and mashable, about an hour. Add more water if needed as rose hips and apples cook.

With a potato masher, mash rose hips and apples. Transfer mashed fruit to a jelly bag and let juice drip into a large bowl or 1-quart measuring cup.

You need 2-1/2 cups juice; add up to ½ cup water to reach that total.

Pectin from the apples help the jelly gel.
Rinse out the heavy pot and return juice to pot. Add lemon juice, pectin and butter (which helps prevent foaming). Bring to a boil.

Add sugar all at once. Return to full boil and boil mixture 1 minute. If using a candy thermometer, mixture should reach 220 degrees F.

Skim off any foam. Ladle hot mixture into sterilized jars, leaving 1/4-inch head space, and seal.

Process jars in hot-water bath 10 minutes. Cool and store.

Note: If not processed in hot-water bath, store jelly refrigerated for up to one month or freeze.


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A recipe for preparing delicious meals from the bounty of the garden.


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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Feb. 5

Make the most of sunny days and get winter tasks done:

* This is the last chance to spray fruit trees before they bloom. Treat peach and nectarine trees with copper-based fungicide. Spray apricot trees at bud swell to prevent brown rot. Apply horticultural oil to control scale, mites and aphids on fruit trees soon after a rain. But remember: Oils need at least 24 hours to dry to be effective. Don’t spray during foggy weather or when rain is forecast.

* Feed spring-blooming shrubs and fall-planted perennials with slow-release fertilizer. Feed mature trees and shrubs after spring growth starts.

* Finish pruning roses and deciduous trees.

* Remove aphids from blooming bulbs with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap.

* Fertilize strawberries and asparagus.

* Transplant or direct-seed several flowers, including snapdragon, candytuft, lilies, astilbe, larkspur, Shasta and painted daisies, stocks, bleeding heart and coral bells.

* In the vegetable garden, plant Jerusalem artichoke tubers, and strawberry and rhubarb roots.

* Transplant cabbage and its close cousins – broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts – as well as lettuce (both loose leaf and head).

* Plant artichokes, asparagus and horseradish from root divisions.

* Plant potatoes from tubers and onions from sets (small bulbs). The onions will sprout quickly and can be used as green onions in March.

* From seed, plant beets, chard, lettuce, mustard, peas, radishes and turnips.

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