Sunday, 1 November 2009

Rosehip and Apple Jam

Both rosehips and apples are in season from about September through November, varying slightly depending on the weather and plant varieties. Roses and apples are actually related plants, and so the flavours and textures compliment each other really well.

I gathered rose hips (each variety of roses will have slightly different rose hips that vary some in size, taste, and colour---although some varieties are better than others, you can eat any of them; I used rose hips from several different types of roses that happened to be growing either in my garden or nearby) and apples (this is a good way to use up windfall apples if you have an apple tree) and made jam.

Rosehip & Apple Jam

1. Pick the rosehips. You can tell they're ripe when they turn a nice red or orange colour instead of green. As you'll cook them, you don't need to be too picky about how ripe they are--I used a range of very firm and mushier rosehips. Then you need to prepare them for use. Cut off any stalks and dried up flower bits and then wash them off. (Remove unwanted bits before washing or else the shrivelled up flower bits will cling to the rosehips and be difficult to remove)

2. In a large saucepan, cook the rosehips. Add enough water to cover them and keep them from catching on the bottom of the pan. You may need to add more water as they cook. You want the rosehips to simmer until they are all soft and pulpy and broken up. If you want to help speed up the process, you can either make cuts in the rosehips before adding them to the pan, or use a masher on them while they're cooking to help them break down. Exact cooking times will vary depending on how many you're cooking at a time, how ripe they are, etc. Generally, a colander full of rosehips will need about 6 cups of water and about half an hour.

3. When the rosehips are fully cooked, then you need to separate the good pulp from the waste (seeds, etc.). There are several ways you can do this. I cut up an old, clean pair of tights, and lined the inside of a sieve. With the sieve placed over a bowl to collect the juice, I put the pulp into it. I left it to drip, and then gathered the tights into a ball around the pulp and squeezed it to get out as much of the useful pulp and juice as possible. Keep that pulp/juice, and discard the seeds that are left behind.

4. Next I prepared the apples. I peeled and cored the apples (I kept those bits for juicing to make syrup with) and cut out any bruised or bitten bits. Then I chopped the apples into small pieces (the size you want them to be in the jam, so it's a matter of personal preference--I like them to be small enough pieces that they don't make the jam lumpy, but distinct pieces as opposed to apple sauce). Cook them with just a little water and a splash of lemon juice until they are soft.

5. Combine the rosehips and apples. You want about equal parts fruit to sugar; the easiest way to do this is to weigh it. Add the fruit and plain white granulated sugar to a large saucepan. You don't need to use special sugar or add pectin. (In fact, both apples and rosehips have high levels of pectin in them naturally, so you need to be careful not to over-set the jam).

6. Bring the fruit and sugar to the boil and--stirring regularly--boil vigorously for about twenty minutes or until set. Test for a set by pouring a little jam on a cold plate as you would for any jam.

7. While cooking the fruit, you need to have sterilized jars to put the jam in. An easy way to do this is to fill clean jars and lids with boiled water, and then pour out the water and put them in the oven on a low heat to dry.

8. Jar the jam. You can put some in the fridge to eat now, or save sealed jars for a couple of years. I particularly like rosehip and apple jam spread on wholemeal toast, and my daughters love it in peanut butter and jam sandwiches.

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