Summer and Rose Hip Jelly

Yesterday’s run took me along my usual route.  I have a habit of just going along, not really thinking about anything, unless something pops into my head.  I can run for an hour without thought, just presence, but sometimes if I have something on my mind, I work it out as I go along.  Once in awhile I really see the scenery as I run— like on the days when the sun is peeking it’s waking eye over the horizon along the shore, or the red-winged blackbirds are particularly busy playing in the tall grasses on the marsh on Penzance Road.  Yesterday, as I turned to look at the pair of swans on Camborne Pond across from Pebble Beach, I saw the shriveled remains of last summer’s rose hip crop and was surprised to see the faded orange-skinned fruits left there.  My mind flew back to a day early last September when my friend Robin and I decided to bicycle to this spot after my run and harvest rose hips so that I might make my annual double batch of rose hip jelly.

Rose hip jelly is sweet, and tastes  of honey and flowers. Its color is an orangey-gold, and it is a little cloudy, because to get the best flavor from the fruit, squeezing the jelly bag yields a slightly less clear product. I have learned that although clear jelly is most prized among the serious canning set, clear rose hip jelly is too tame in flavor for my taste, so I squeeze out as much of the pulp as will pass through my jelly bag.  This jelly is delicious on toasted cinnamon bread.

rosa rugosa in bloom

Both Cape Hedge Beach and Pebble Beach in Rockport have thick clumps of rosa rugosa bushes lining the side of the road.  These beach roses flower all summer long in delicate pinks and whites.   The petals waver tenuously in the ocean breezes.  Thin-petaled roses, rosa rugosa, nothing like the roses you get on Valentine’s Day stuffed into a vase. The round  hips that form behind each flower ripen toward the end of summer glow in the early evening lavender light, on nights we squander late at the beach and our noses fill with their light scent as we head home.

Robin and I worked hard that September morning, plucking with gloved hands the thorny hips from their hedges.  We pulled the biggest, roundest, most swollen fruit from the bushes, and dropped them into large nylon backpacks.  Robin was surprised by the number of rose hips that we needed to produce enough jelly for one family plus enough leftover to share.  We took pleasure in the gathering,  and at our good fortune to live close enough to this spot to ride bikes here.  We rambled around together in the late summer morning sun, chatting away and laughing, vying for the plumpest rose hips nestled deep in the hedges.  It was hot, and I had worn shorts.  By the time our bags were full, my legs were covered in scratches, some of them bleeding.  We had wound our way through almost all of the bushes, and were hot and thirsty.  We plunked ourselves across the street on a rock by the water and guzzled water from the bottles we had brought along, groaning as we loaded our heavy packs onto our backs for the ride home.

Later that morning, I held my grandmother’s recipe and my memories of her in my mind sweetly as I washed, cleaned, and cut the sharp heads from the hips.  The clean rose hips piled up on my over-sized wooden cutting board, the fuzzy insides revealed, looking rather bruised.  I covered the fruit with water and started the day-long process of making the jelly.  I made enough to supply us for the winter, with enough left to share— but only with family and friends who love it as much as we do.

So yesterday, as I ended my run, 7.2 miles, I looked forward to a hot shower, then breakfast— toasted cinnamon bread spread with my best souvenir of last summer.

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7 Comments on “Summer and Rose Hip Jelly”

  1. Pat Says:

    another great post..YUM…..so
    evocative…

  2. Sharon Says:

    I have worked out some of my best solutions to life situations while running outside. It’s a wonderful feeling to go the distance and not remember how one got there (at least for me)!

    Rose hip jelly sounds delicious! Tell me, do you make your own cinnamon bread too?


    • Right there with you, Sharon! How is it possible to lose a whole hour while running? I truly do not understand, but perhaps I should just appreciate it. It makes me think of time travel. And yes, I do make my own cinnamon bread- not too hard as long as there’s time…I double the recipe, otherwise it’s just gone, gone gone. Thanks for reading!

  3. Craig Reed Says:

    I swear, if I ran the route that you run, I would be so caught up in the wonderment of the beautiful scenery around here that I would be forever tripping on a curb or running into trees.

    Speaking from experience, having helped many times with the thorny work of picking, cleaning, and squeezing rose hips with you, I’ll take translucent and flavorful over clear and subtle every time. And if it doesn’t happen to set just right in the jar, it makes a great syrup, too.


    • Believe it or not, it’s easy to space out during a run and not even notice what you have passed!
      And, thank you for all those times you stood beside me at the sink, fingers stinging from those tiny little prickly ends, cleaning giant piles of rose hips! Remember the year we had extra juice and we made rose hip ice cream? Wow, was that delicious!

  4. pokerice Says:

    I read this forum since 2 weeks and now i have decided to register to share with you my ideas. 🙂


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