The Cottage Smallholder

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Rosehip and Apple Jelly Recipe

Rosehips in our garden

Rosehips in our garden

Rosehips are ripening and perfect for picking now. Some people wait until after the first frost, when the rosehips will be soft. We start picking from the first week in September. They need to cook for longer but we know that they’re really fresh. They’re high in vitamin C and a great asset for the self sufficient smallholder. As a child, I remember my Mother giving us rosehip syrup (a dessert spoon daily). It was rather good. Nowadays, we make apple and rosehip jelly.

The rosehip flavour combines well with the apple. This is a delicate jelly with a fuller taste than plain apple jelly; good with toast for breakfast and excellent served with chicken, pork or a mild cheese.

Incidentally, I recently heard that rosehip concoctions are good for sore throats. Perhaps we should all toy with a spoonful when we’re next in bed with a bug.

Rosehip and Apple Jelly recipe




  • 2 lb/900g rosehips
  • 4 lb/1800g of sweet eating apples. We use windfalls as they won’t keep
  • Zest of half a lemon (add to the apples)
  • Juice of half a lemon (strained). Half a medium lemon equates to one tablespoon of juice.
  • Sugar – 1pt/600ml of strained juice to 1lb/454g of white granulated sugar
  • This recipe makes 14 half pound jars. So adjust accordingly.

As the rosehips can take longer than the apple to soften I always cook them separately. In this way both are cooked for their individual optimum time. I cook the rosehips on one evening, straining it overnight, and then cook the apples on the next evening. The juice will keep well in the fridge for a couple of days, in covered containers. Split over three evenings, the jelly is not a palaver and can be easily fitted into a busy routine.


  1. Remove stalks from the rosehips and place in a large pan. Don’t use an iron or aluminium pan as this will strip away the vitamin C. A large glass or enamelled saucepan is ideal. I use a large non stick, stainless steel stock pot or Maslin pan. Barely cover the hips with water and bring to the boil and simmer gently until the hips are soft. This can take quite a while if the hips are still firm (when I was making this jelly, the hips took a good hour and a half to soften). Keep an eye on them, stirring from time to time. Top up with water if necessary. (I mashed them gently with a plastic potato masher to hurry them along). If you are using my three evening method, strain the rosehips through sterilised muslin (see points 3 and 4 below)
  2. Wash the apples, cut out bad bits and chop roughly. There is no need to peel or core the apples. Add water to cover of the fruit – they should just be floating. Add the lemon zest. Bring slowly to the boil and simmer very gently until all the fruit is soft and squishy. (This can take anything from 20 minutes to an hour, depending on how ripe the fruit is.)
  3. Pour the cooked fruit through sterilised muslin into a large clean bucket or bowl (how do I sterilise muslin/the jelly bag? See tips and tricks below). The muslin is often referred to as a “jelly bag”. We use tall buckets to catch the drips from the jelly bags. Rather than hang the bags (conventional method-between the legs of an upturned stool) I find it easier to line a large plastic sieve with the muslin. This clips neatly onto the top of a clean bucket. The sieve is covered with a clean tea cloth to protect against flies.
  4. Leave the jelly bag to drip overnight (or about 12 hours).
  5. Measure the juice the next day.
  6. Pour the juice into a deep heavy bottomed saucepan and add 1lb/454g of white granulated sugar for each 1pt/570ml of juice.
  7. Add the lemon juice.
  8. Heat the juice and sugar gently stirring from time to time, so as to make sure that that all the sugar has dissolved before bringing the liquid slowly to the boil.
  9. As there are apples (high in pectin) in this recipe only continue to boil for about 10 minutes before testing for a set. This is called a rolling boil. Test every 3 to 5 minutes until setting point is reached. (What is testing for a set? See tips and tricks below).
  10. Tossing in a nugget of butter towards the end will reduce the frothing that can occur.
  11. When jelly has reached setting point pour into warm sterilised jars using a funnel and ladle. (How do I sterilise jars? See tips and tricks below).
  12. Cover immediately with plastic lined screw top lids or waxed disks and cellophane tops secured with a rubber band.
  13. If you don’t think that the jelly has set properly, you can reboil jelly the next day. The boiling reduces the water in the jelly. I have done this in the past. Ideally you should try for the right set the first time.
  14. Label when cold and store in a cool, dark place. Away from damp.

Tips and tricks:

  • What is a jelly bag?
    A jelly bag is traditionally a piece of muslin but it can be cheesecloth, an old thin tea cloth or even a pillowcase. The piece needs to be about 18 inches square. When your fruit is cooked and ready to be put in the jelly bag, lay your cloth over a large bowl. Pour the fruit into the centre of the cloth and tie the four corners together so that they can be slung on a stick to drip over the bowl. Traditionally a stool is turned upside down, the stick is rested on the wood between the legs and the jelly bag hangs over the bowl. We experimented and now line a sieve with muslin, place it over a bucket and cover the lot with clean tea cloths (against the flies).
  • How do I sterilise muslin/the jelly bag?
    Iron the clean jelly bag with a hot iron. This method will also sterilise tea cloths.
  • Jelly “set” or “setting point”?
    Getting the right set can be tricky. I have tried using a jam thermometer but find it easier to use the following method.
    Before you start to make the jelly, put a couple of plates in the fridge so that the warm jam can be drizzled onto a cold plate (when we make jam we often forget to return the plate to the fridge between tests, using two plates means that you have a spare cold plate). Return the plate to the fridge to cool for approx two minutes. It has set when you run your finger through it and leave a crinkly track mark. If after two minutes the cooled jam is too liquid, continue to boil the jelly, testing it every few minutes until you have the right set. The jelly is far more delicious if it is slightly runny. It does get firmer after a few months.
  • How do I sterilise the jars and lids?
    We collect jars all year round for our jelly, chutney and jam making sessions. I try to soak off labels and store the clean jars and metal plastic coated screw-top lids in an accessible place. The sterilising method that we use is simple. Just before making the jam, I quickly wash and rinse the jars and place them upside down in a cold oven. Set the temperature to 160c (140c fan-assisted). When the oven has reached the right temperature I turn off the heat. The jars will stay warm for quite a while. I only use plastic lined lids for preserves as the all-metal lids can go rusty. I boil these for five minutes in water to sterilise them. If I use Le Parfait jars, I do the same with the rubber rings.

  Leave a reply


  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Mildred,

    Apparently Ray Mears makes hawthorn berry jelly. It might be one that needs to be mixed with apple.

    Gathering berries always seems a bit primeval to me too.

  2. Mildred

    Hello there, we made our first batch of Rosehip/Crab Apple Jelly at the weekend. Apart from the obvious delight of creating a wonderfully flavoursome preserve, we obtained immense satisfaction from scouring the village hedgerows for the ruby red hips.
    There is something almost primeaval in ‘gathering’ wild produce for the tea table.
    Has anyone made jelly from hawthorn berries I wonder? If so, can you recommend it?
    Hope you are feeling much better tonight Fi.

  3. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Plumsource,

    Thanks for dropping by and the update.

    I think that rosehip jelly is chic. Subtle flavours and unusual.

  4. plumsource

    Just to say, I’m boiling up my rosehip and (cooking) apple as I type and out of interest, I tasted it with the recipe amount of sugar and it was scrummy. So didn’t add any more. Must go and test for wrinkly jelly…

  5. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Jodi,

    I love this jelly too. Delicate and rather chic. Great in the winter on toast for breakfast. And there’s double whammy with this one – delicious and loads of vitamin C.

    It’s great that you enjoyed making it too!

  6. Thanks so much for this recipe! I was Googling for rosehip syrup recipes but when I found this I thought it sounded much more interesting. I watched my mum make raspberry jam at the end of every summer as a child, sometimes helping out with stirring and of course with testing 😉 but I’ve never actually made anything like this myself, so all the tips were really helpful.

    I’m now looking at the jars lined up on my worktop with such satisfaction, but I don’t think they’ll be hanging around for long! From the drips and drops I’ve tasted, it’s heavenly stuff.

  7. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Plumsource,

    I don’t see why not. If using cooking apples cut out the lemon juice (but not the zest) and possibly add a bit more sugar. Dissolve the recipe amount first and taste, adding extra sugar in 100g increments before bringing to the boil and making the jelly.

    I’d love to hear how you get on.

  8. plumsource

    Lovely site and inspirational reipes for a hedgerow plundering novice!

    Have just collected some hips from the field at the back of us and met a new calf aswell! Do you think I could use cooking apples from our tree in this recipe if I add sugar. If so how much?

    Many thanks


  9. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Dulwich Daisy,

    I heard about the leeching of vitamin C from rosehips from several sources. So I have always followed the advice and avoided using our old aluminium pan to cook them.

    Most new jelly pans are stainless steel nowadays. I cook the rosehips and make the jelly in a very large enamel casserole.

  10. Dulwich Daisy

    I note you say that an aluminium pan strips away the Vitamin C. I make preserves in an ordinary aluminium pan – and I know most traditional jelly pans are aluminium. Why, if this has such bad effect? I’d love to hear from others about this as I was just about to buy a jelly pan, and I note that you can buy some that are enamel.

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