Thursday, 13 September 2012

Rugosa Rose Hips as Wild Food

As autumn is pretty much here, this article is the first in an occasional series dealing with autumn fruits and fungi as they become available. This article deals with the first of the autumn fruit, the Rugosa rose hip.

The Rugosa Rose, Rosa rugosa (also known as the Japanese Rose, Ramanas Rose, Beach Tomato, Sea Tomato, Saltspray Rose and Beach Rose) is a deciduous shrubby rose species originally native to eastern Asia, (particularly northeastern China, Japan, Korea and southeastern Siberia), where it grows on the coast, often on sand dunes. Due to its tolerance for salty conditions and its ability to stabilize sand dunes it has been transported and introduced worldwide.

This hardy rose species has been introduced to many British coastal and city areas. Though much larger and robust in all aspects than the native British Dog Rose (Rosa canina) the rugosa rose's hips and flower petals are edible and can be prepared in the same way as dog rose petals and hips.

However, the much larger hips of the rugosa rose are much softer than those of the dog rose. They are in peak condition right now, when the dog rose hips are not quite completely ripe yet. So, this weekend, if you have rugosa rose bushes near you why not go out to pick rose hips.

You can find suggestions for recipes for them on the Celtnet Rugosa rose information and recipes page. You can also substitute them for the recipes on the Celtnet Dog Rose Information and Recipes page.

All rose hips are very high in Vitamin C and they were collected to make cordials during the Second World War.

But to get you started, here is a new recipe for a Rose Hip Leather:

Rugosa Rose Hip Leather Recipe

Fruit leathers are an excellent way of preserving certain fruit for later use in the year. Leathers are dissolved to make drinks in the Middle East and are also used as the basis for fruit desserts or they can be eaten as sweets (candies), making them much more versatile than you think. This recipe is for a classic recipe using rose hips that preserves the fruit's vitamin C content in the leather.


1l rugosa rose hips, picked when ripe
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp lemon juice

Pick clean rugosa rose hips that are very ripe (just beginning to soften). Trim the stem and blossom ends of the fruit then place in a pan along with just enough cold water to barely cover. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for between 10 and 15 minutes.

Take off the heat and press through a fine-meshed sieve. Turn anything left in the sieve back into your pan, add cold water to barely cover then bring to a boil (this will extract any fruit flesh still left). Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes then press through the sieve once again. Repeat the cooking process one more time then discard anything left in the sieve (you will only have seeds and skins left.

Combine the honey and lemon juice with the fruit puree. Now line a baking tray with heat-proof clingfilm (the kind you can microwave). Note that an average baking tray (about 30cm x 42cm) will hold about 500ml of purée.

Add the purée to the covered baking tray, spread evenly with a spatula (you want a depth of about 4mm) then place in an oven pre-heated to 140°C. Place the baking tray in the oven but leave the door ajar (you want the steam to escape, as you are drying the leather) and cook for about 6 hours, or until the fruit leather is very dry. The exact drying time will depend on the sugar levels, the more sugar the longer it will take to dry.

The leather must be completely dry, or it will not keep. To ensure the leather is dry simply try to pull it away from the clingfilm (plastic wrap). If it comes away easily and holds its shape then it is dry (make sure its not too dry though, as then it will crumble bit it can still be eaten as a candy).

To store, cover the fruit leather in clingfilm (plastic wrap) and roll loosely. Place in a clean, dry container and seal (I typically use a pasta jar with a bung). It will keep in the store cupboard for between 4 and 12 months or you can refrigerate and keep even longer.

For all the wild food recipes on this blog, see the wild food recipes page.

Find more British recipes on the Recipes from the British Isles page of this blog.

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