Making Rose Hip Jelly - Part 1

What follows is a bit of stuff I learned about making jelly- specifically rose hip jelly which is something I always wanted to try once I had actually tasted a ripe rose hip- and some general thoughts about recipes and what might constitute 'organic' for those who are concerned about this.

Starting with finding a perfect recipe (online). This will probably never happen. People are either copy-pasting the same recipes around, sharing boring or over-the-top recipes, and ( I suspect ) omitting a key ingredient here and there or simply forgetting to list something.
There are some neat, interesting recipes around but they tend to use a confusing mix of measurements and sometimes the reason for certain odd ingredients are not explained making me not want to take the chance on that recipe. And some people just don't know their stuff; 2 sites said rose hips were high in pectin and sites said they were low. I still don't have a definitive answer on the pectin content of rose hips.
In the end I found about 10 unique recipes for rose hip jelly/jam and I tried to distill the basic similarities and concepts into one general idea.

It comes down to what you want out of your final product: a clear jelly, a cloudy jelly, a mixed jelly, or a jam? Do you want to use a pectin product or go totally natural? How much time do you have and patience as well?
Each choice of ingredient affects the look of the product, the taste, and the amount of work you must do but I have to say the work IS WORTH IT for the end result.

EDIT: I forgot to add that the taste of rose hip jelly is hard to describe as it's unique but it is definitely reminiscent of citrus- but sweeter...rosier! I've read some comparisons to 'red zinger' tea which I have never drank so can't comment on it.

Types of rose hip products:
1 To make a clear jelly means first rinsing and then trimming the hips, chopping them up and cooking them in water followed by a bit of mashing and then finally straining the hips for a pure syrup. You add other ingredients that don't affect clarity (lemon, sugar, pectin etc.) and the whole process is relatively easy but wasteful of the hips full potential which is bothersome considering the work that goes into gathering them.
2 If you don't mind a cloudy or mixed jelly which looks just as nice in my opinion then you would go the extra step of squeezing the straining bag (cheese cloth) to get out more of the rose hip syrup. This will gain you probably double the amount of raw product then the first situation. You will obviously feel freer to add other things to the jelly you are familiar with...cloves, apple purre etc. Again you must wash and trim the tails off the hips as they will interfere in the squeezing or wringing out of the straining bag.
3 Jam: the most work but uses the full hips potential. Besides washing the hips have to be sorted to make certain there are only perfect specimens and the seeds HAVE TO BE REMOVED by cutting them out.
4 Syrup...I didn't set out to make it but do have two batches that didn't gel...I will call them syrup!

Other considerations based on Cooking times: to add pectin or not. Pectin is a natural product that is also produced commercially and it is used to help jellies and jams 'set'. Pectin is responsible for binding the fruit flesh together- fruit glue. Using pectin affects the cooking time... you spend less time boiling all the goodness out of the fruit; flavor and vitamins remain at a more optimal level.
What if you don't want to use pectin? Good luck with that. The problem is that different fruits have different pectin contents which is why recipes sometimes call for the addition of other fruit which are naturally high in pectin - like apple and/or apple juice. Commercial pectin is generally regarded as safe and has been in use for a long time but I would not call it an organic product. My opinion.
The biggest issue for rose hip jelly and jam is how much pectin to use. It can be overdone. That hasn't been the case for me yet.

Sugar etc.:
You will have to add sugar- the amount will vary. Online recipes are wildly divergent on this ingredient! Some call for a 1 to 1 ratio of rose hip to sugar while others suggest 1 to 2 or 1 to 4...nuts! I've seen one recipe call for honey but I have no idea how that is measured against dry product. Sugar sweetens and also helps to bind the fruit.
You will also have to add lemon for acid- or lemon juice. Again, that messes with the organic idea a bit but not in a huge way.
(I regard citrus products as non organic unless it's stated on the bag/box/bottle that no pesticides, hormones etc were used on the main crops or in the green houses and even then I am skeptical. Sugar for that matter is a refined product so it is something to consider for the purists out there!)

The most important part I learned from my reading is that rose hips are difficult to quantify (can't think of a better word) in real world measurements due to how they are acquired, what the end product should be, and our own degree of conservation and frugality, particularly as people who make home preserves.

I spent almost 2 hours happily gathering rose hips one morning and when I came home and dumped them all out into large pans it took almost 3 casual days before all of them had their tales pulled off (and my husband helped) which fortunately was easy because they were perfectly ripe. There was NO NEED TO CUT THEM OFF which is tiresome and evidently damaging to them on a few levels. In the end I had 10 pounds! 10 pounds of a fussy, fussy fruit to deal with! It was kind of overwhelming and caused the great deal of research that followed.

The recipes on line were difficult to follow because of the weird mix of measurements; quarts should be banned. Either use measurements that are listed on measuring cups like 'cups' or go totally metric!
Then there was the deciding how much to get rid of and the work involved. The seeds and tails have to go if you plan on making jam. Tails aren't difficult but seeds are time consuming. The hips have to be cut and the insides scooped out. The seed hairs can irritate some people- they used to be an ingredient in 'itching powder'!
You could put the strained mash through a sieve to remove the seeds but this is time consuming as well.
This is why there are many, many recipes for simply syrup!

For me, in the end most of them were cooked and strained for syrup which is what went into the jelly as the main ingredient naturally. I still have the mash however and there is little time left to decide what should be done with it as it is full of those terrible hairy little seeds.
I still have about 4 cups of whole hips that can be hulled (deseeded ) and turned into jam. I will write part 2 of this subject once I have sampled the products and can say something conclusive about taste, constancy, texture and all that...

Feel free to share your experiences on this subject :)


Garden status

The garden is continuing to produce. Cherry tomatoes are coming in regularly and the peppers are ripening. Tomatoes in general are doing awesome.

Both went into the food dehydrator yesterday and today they came out tasting delicious!
I had already dried some of the cherry tomatoes in this way and while the little tomatoes are wonderful for snacks or salads they dry into raisin sized kernels which I don't like despite adoring the taste. With the first Roma tomatoes to go in the food dehydrator I decided to simply slice them a little less than a centimeter which still turned out a bit thin for my tastes. So far the old K-Tel machine that was my mother's is doing a great job!
I've also got access to plum and apple trees so will be making jam this year after all. :)

I still have plenty of salad and Swiss Chard. S.C. is a wonderful plant that just keeps on producing. It has a slightly salty flavor and is awesome in or as the main ingredient for a salad. Ditto for spinach but that's pretty much gone now. I have 3 cabbages that survived first the brutal summer and second the cabbage butterflies. Lots of carrots. 2 broccoli plants that I am awaiting going to seed. Corn is SLOWLY growing bigger. Some radishes that I doubt will make it before winter is really here.
There are a few cucumbers still lumbering along, some pumpkins/squash plants which will probably not produce anything...beans in the front are a joke but the one's in the back do awesomely as do the tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, birdhouse gourd and pepper plants.
The potatoes in the 4 buckets are still doing well while the ones in the front of house (the main garden) will soon be harvested as they are browning and breaking down. The strawberries are being transplanted (so far the one's that have been moved have survived) and in their place shall be moved the compost pile. (Now done)

The nettle patch will be growing elsewhere and the grapes will just have to deal with it.
The plan is to have the entire main garden in the back of house next year because it's more sheltered and better suited to it despite the fact that it's much smaller in size. The boat will obviously be brought to the front where there is room to park it on the trailer- just a matter of securing it.

I still get a few surprises. What I thought was a bean that had germinated late turned out to be one of Mama's morning glory seeds. There is one purple flower there to remind me that I was to hasty with giving up on those seeds. Where it's growing will become a gravelled seating area with possibly a pond in the future. The whole front of house will be dedicated to perennials and herbs, particularly the native plants that form the basis of my organic teas. More on that in a future post but here is a picture of what 10 pounds of rose hips look like:

In other matters I am selling post cards fairly steadily, getting some of my work published in one place or another and am reworking my web site ( it's amazing how that has become so all-consuming ).



The fall fair has come and gone and with it the 51st Nicola Valley Pro Rodeo.

I got some nice pictures of the cowboys risking their behinds but the weather wasn't too great for photography unless you had a really large aperture lens as did many of the photographers who were in attendance. There were more than last year and the main booth for v.i.p.s had been enlarged...I think this is a good sign for rodeo.

Speaking of which, it was a picture of mine- a cowboy that took first place in the 'action' category of photos as the fair.
I also got firsts for 'Boxing Marmots' in wild animals, 'Duky-Katze' for domestic animals, and 'Ferris Wheel Love' for People/open category.
My dried floral arrangement (A European theme with grain, poppies, and cornflowers) got second place which pleased me although I believe it was the only dried arrangement in the show.
My panorama got second place which was kind of disappointing. I know it's not all about winning but when I think of the work that went into it- having a tripod out on that windy hill and slowly panning across the landscape to capture around 20 pictures and then painstakingly putting them together manually on the computer- to say nothing of getting the file ready and finding a new printer to print out the image in a different city.
Contrast that to the small image of a bridge during sunset taken from near the base. Oh well. Mine probably looked too professional because of the watermark at the bottom that wasn't hidden too well. I say that as a matter of fact- I made that image for personal pleasure but to the highest standard I know I can do.

A disturbing thing at the fair is a lack of participation by the artistic community...and possibly an absence of artistic interest in certain fields altogether. There were maybe 4 pieces in the digital art category for my age group and it was no contest getting first and second for my two entries.
Likewise for the fine art- there was only my stuff and maybe one other. Nothing takes the joy out of winning a ribbon than to know you won it by default since there were no other competitors. That's really what it felt like. Last year there were far more entries- I can't believe that the price increase of 25 cents a piece made it so difficult for people to get involved. I will have to address this as a meeting of the VVA next month.

That's it for now. I will have to write about the fishing trip another time.


Fall Fair Time

It's that time of year again. I've submitted 9 images to the fall fair; 2 art pieces and 7 photos. I wish more people (artists) put stuff into the fair...I don't know if they can't be bothered, think it's beneath them, or plain forgot.
I do this because I like sharing my stuff and for the exposure. Ribbons are nice too but i want my name to become familiar to the community. Although I do professional quality assignments in portraiture, design and so forth and am slowly building up my portfolio of published work I do not consider myself a 'professional' yet in that I have not yet registered myself as a business. Probably next year...but for now since my opportunities for photography are the same as everyone else I don't feel bad about trying for the aggregate prize!

I've also put in a dried floral arrangement that I stupidly did not take a picture of. It's theme is traditional European (grain, poppies, cornflowers) with the addition of a weirdly curled onion stalk and embellished with a bit of sparkly pipe-cleaner bent in the shape of the poppies the pods came from. Opium poppies. That's right...a lot of people grow Opium poppies as an ornamental flower in their gardens although they may call them 'bread seed poppies'.

Just recently the police 'busted' an opium poppy grower in Chilliwack, B.C. who was on the verge of harvesting 8 acres of pods to make an Asian tea additive- lol! It's kind of ludicrous but I guess they had to since it's a controlled substance...8 acres isn't exactly a flower bed! Anyway, I got a few nice compliments from the people running the fair over it and it's mostly because of the weird onion. Will post picture later.

For Digital Art/Open:

An older piece for a dramatic Digital Art contribution:

My specialty has a category; Panorama. This particular image(s) is Kamloops, B.C.

For People/Open:

Again in the People/Open category:

Boxing Marmots- a fairly recent picture for wild animals category:

My little soul sucker for Domesticated animals:

Fine arts...an unashamed Trekker I am!:

For fine art a portrait of the che-F:) :

A cowboy in the action category: