Rose Hip Jelly

“Can we make rose hip jelly?” asked my young (10) friend Alden as we walked along the beach bordered by sand dunes covered with beach roses.

“These,” she said, pointing to the bright red jaw-breaker sized orbs in the thorny shrubs, “are rose hips. And mom says people make jelly out of them.” We were surrounded by thousands of them.

“Sure!” said I. Thank God for the Internet.

Rose Bushes with Ripe Hips

So, what are rose hips? They are the seed pods of roses; if you leave the flowers alone to wither on the plant instead of picking them, they will produce rose hips. Rose hips are edible (as are rose petals), though you want to make sure to pick rose hips only from roses that haven’t been sprayed with pesticides. Wild beach roses are perfect, as are dog roses and sweet briars.

Alden with Rose Hip

Rose hips do not taste like roses. Their taste is sort of tangy, like hibiscus. If you’ve ever had Red Zinger tea, it’s along that line. Rose hips are an excellent source of vitamin C; I’ve seen references from 8 to 40 times as much C in rose hips as in oranges.

Rose Hip Jelly

So we did, indeed gather buckets full of rose hips from the beach and made a couple batches of jelly and one of jam. Of the two, the kids seemed to prefer the jelly and the adults the jam. The jam is marmalade-ish given that I use an orange and a green apple to help provide pectin. (See Rose Hip Jam for the jam recipe.) The rose hips themselves have very little natural pectin. The jelly recipe uses commercial pectin.

Rose Hips

In doing research for the jelly adventure, several sources mentioned that the rose hips are best picked right after the first frost, when they are the sweetest. We picked them in August, and tried to get them as red all around as we could, and firm, blemish-free.

Have you ever cooked with rose hips? Made tea with them? Jams or Jellies? If so, please share your experiences with us in the comments.

Rose Hip Jelly Recipe

  • Yield: Makes 5 8-ounce jars

Rose hips have seeds on the inside that are itchy and irritating. You can leave the seeds in if you want, or remove them; they will get strained out if you don't remove them before cooking.

On doing research for the jelly recipe, one source said that the seeds were slightly tannic and recommended removing them. I tried it both ways and noticed practically no difference in the resulting taste. Removing the seeds is rather painstaking, and for the jelly recipe can add an entire hour to the jelly making process.

Do not use aluminum or cast iron to cook the rosehips; use stainless steel or non-reactive cookware.



  • 2 quarts rose hips
  • 6 cups water
  • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 package SureJell pectin
  • 1/4 teaspoon butter
  • 3 1/2 cups sugar
  • 6 8-ounce canning jars and fresh lids


1 Rinse the rose hips thoroughly. Cut off the scraggly ends and discard.


2 Place rose hips in a large pot. Add 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. Cover and cook for 1 hour (or longer), until rose hips are soft and mashable.

3 Use a potato masher to mash up the rose hips into a rough purée. Set up a jelly bag, or a large very fine mesh strainer, or 4 layers of cheesecloth over a bowl or large pot. Transfer the rose hip mixture into the jelly bag/strainer/cheesecloth. Let strain into the bowl for at least an hour. Squeeze the jelly bag or cheesecloth to get more remaining juice out.

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4 Prepare canning jars. You'll need 5 to 6 half-pint canning jars and lids. Sterilize the jars by either running them through the dishwasher, right before canning, or placing them on a rack in a large pot of water that you bring to a boil for 10 minutes, or by placing them in a 200°F oven for 10 minutes. To sterilize the lids, bring a kettle of a couple cups of water to a boil. Place lids in a shallow bowl and pour the boiling water over them.

5 Measure the juice. You will need 3 cups of juice for this recipe, so if you have less than 3 cups, add more water to the mixture (you can also add some boiling water to the jelly bag if you still have it set up, allowing more liquid to drain out).

6 Place 3 cups of the rose hip juice in a large, wide pot. Add the lemon juice and pectin. Bring to a boil, dissolving all of the pectin. Add the sugar. Once the sugar has dissolved, add the butter. Bring to a hard boil (one that you can not reduce by stirring).

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The mixture will bubble up considerably. Boil for exactly one minute. Then remove from heat and pour off into prepared canning jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace from the rim.

7 If any jelly falls on the rim as your pour it into the jars, wipe the rim with a damp paper towel. Place sterilized lids on jars and rings to secure. To ensure a good seal, and to guard against mold, you can process the jars in a water bath for 10 minutes (bacteria is already killed by the sugar). To process, place the jars on a rack in a large, tall stock pot. Cover with an inch of water and bring to a rolling boil for 10 minutes. Then turn off the heat, remove the jars from the water, and let cool. As the jars cool you should hear a popping sound as the lids seal. The lids should seal; if not, store in the refrigerator.

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Rosehip Syrup and Rosehip Apple Jelly from The Cottage Smallholder

Drying rosehips for tea from Frugal Cuisine

Rosehip syrup from Hunter Gathering

Alden holding rose hip jelly

Showing 4 of 58 Comments

  • Nicole

    I love making rose hip jelly. We had an exceptionally bountiful wild rose year here in Alaska. I made rose petal ice cream earlier this summer which was inspired by the Indian Kulfi dessert. I also froze a batch of rose water and am hoping to experiment with some jellies made with rose hips and rose water. Last year I made rose hip and lavender jelly which was quite lovely.
    I have never found the theory of the first frost to hold true. They get really mushy and seem to take on a musty scent that I really do not like. Enjoy them , they are the secret berry. Very few folks know what to do with them and they always seem plentiful.

  • medicdave

    Wow – once again, you’ve introduced me to an ingredient I would never have imagined using! We have a large rosebush growing unattended beside our house, and it was packed with blossoms this summer – I’ll have to see if there are enough rose hips ripening there for us to try a small batch of jam…

    I’ve noticed that none of your recent recipes for canned foods call for processing (so long as the cans seal after hot-packing) – is there a rule of thumb you use to know which foods can be canned without processing? Maybe I’ve been spending too much time at NCHFP’s web site, but the idea of canning without processing makes me nervous. Can you help my inner food geek lighten up a bit? :)

    Good question. I actually adjusted the recipe to say that you can process them. You don’t have to though. Generally for high sugar foods like jams and jellies I don’t bother with a water bath because the sugar is an excellent preservative. It literally sucks the H2O out of bacteria. If the jars do not seal after I pour out, it’s usually because the jelly cooled too much while I was pouring and there wasn’t enough initial heat to create a vacuum as the mixture cooled. So then I do a water bath. If I’m making pickles which have either much less sugar or no sugar, even though they may be packed in vinegar (also a preservative), I run them through a water bath. By the way, if you look at any of the old Joy of Cooking books (1974 and earlier), jams and jellies were canned with parafin (hot wax). There’s no way you could water process those jars with wax. They just didn’t do it. The biggest problem you get with (regular, not low, sugar) jams and jellies is mold. If your jars, lids, and jelly/jam mixture are all hot, then the mold spores should be killed just by the heat of them. But if they have cooled below about 180°F, then there is more of a chance of mold. ~Elise

  • Glenda Berman

    As a child growing up in England in the 1950’s we were paid to collect rose hips from dog roses. The rose hips were collected to make rose hip syrup a magical elixir guaranteed to keep winter colds at bay. As children do we would also take the seeds and slip them under a class mates shirt – the victim would then itch the whole day.

    Alden and her sisters helped me de-seed the rose hips. Seeds were flying everywhere, including all over them, which started such an itching frenzy that the sisters bailed from the task. Apparently “itching powder” is made from rose hip seeds. ~Elise

  • Dara

    Alden is adorable! The only thing I’ve ever done with rosehips is to have wars with them in the backyard with my kids. I had no idea they could be turned into jam. I have about 40 rosebushes, so this is very good news to me! Thanks for such an innovative recipe.

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