The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

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. Dot Lucas

    Tried and tested way to remove sticky residue from labels

    1 Very hot water to remove the plastic stuff.

    2 Soak jars in methylated spirit for as long as it takes to dissolve the glue. I do quite a few at a time in a bowl, spirit can be reused by simply returning back to bottle.
    3 After a good soak the sticky stuff can easily be scraped off with a blunt knife.
    4 There after return jars to hot water and use a scourer to remove any **** that remains.

    I have tried many ways to do this task, vinegar, nail polish remover,surgical spirit, etc etc but when I thought of brasso and that worked I sussed out why. Brasso contains meths!

    Absolutely no need to buy expensive products. They probably just have the same content.

    Happy Days Girls, I hope this makes life easier.

    Any gongs will be gratefully received!!!

  2. Grumpy old man

    Have made rose hip jelly before but this time it simply won’t set Have tried re-boiling but still not a lot of difference. Was going to throw it but it tastes fine. What can I do?

    • Hi Grumpy,
      Sorry to hear your rose hip jelly hasn’t set. Couple of questions:- Have you used apples which have plenty of pectin like crab apples or Bramley’s? It’s a tad early for Rose hips so did you use frozen ones from last year or have you been scrumping this year already?

      Both things can affect the setting quality of your mix in my experience. You can either accept this lot wont set without a few additions and just use it as syrup to pour over ice cream or yoghurt – still very yummy. Or if you have a lot of it and are determined to get a jelly then you could pour it back in pot, add juice of a large lemon and invest in some powder pectin from Tate & Lyle. Mix one sachet to about 100gms of sugar (thoroughly incorporate the powder in with the sugar before adding to pan) and when your syrup is hot enough add this sugar/pectin and dissolve completely before bringing to boil for 5 minutes….or until you get a set. I put a plate in freezer and pour teaspoon of the jelly onto this cold plate and leave for 5 mins to see if it has set before I pot it up. You don’t say how much liquid you started out with – I find anything over 1200mls needs a lot of boiling so you loose a large quantity of your juice anyway. Better to stick to around between 1 litre and 1200 mls or you end up boiling the delicate flavour of the hips to death and it’s ruined. I know the recipe says sweet apples but they never work for me – I believe they have much less pectin than tart apples. Good Luck.

  3. Apple and hawthorn jelly is delicious and a beautiful red colour.
    Proportion 1/3 hawthorn berries and 2/3 apples is a good mix but does not need to be exact.

  4. Tricia Fulford

    Hi Fiona: Please help.Have always heard of rose hip jelly. This is the bud of the rose after it has finished, & grown a bulb like thing on the end? If this is it, I picked a large dish full this day. How do I go about preparing them? Do you cut the little seed type things from the after of the rose petals have fallen off, & then what? Do you just boil & proceed as for making jelly? Please be specific, as this is entirely new to me, & thanks so much.

  5. hi Jeannie,
    Yes it is best to reduce the amount of sugar not a pound to a pint as with old recipes. I have found because Rose Hip is not high in pectin best to reduce the amount of sugar say about 350 to 400 grams to a pint of juice. You can also add maybe juice of a lemon to be sure. Also read somewhere to use Crab Apples when under ripe they have a lot more pectin. Enjoy the produce it is marvellous with brown bread and butter.
    Note in Ireland about 30 years ago school children were paid to collect the rose hips and a juice was made to send to children in Africa. A Bit of Wikipedia.
    Enjoy the produce
    Many Blessings,

  6. Many thanks for this lovely recipe. I collected rosehips and presumably crab apples from hedgerows. The apples were amazing very small and sweet, I was eating them as eating apples.
    I did not weigh the fruit before cooking, thinking i would simply use half amount of rosehip juice to apple juice to make the jelly. The apples were twice the volume to rosehips when placed in the pans for cooking yet I obtained as much juice from the half volume ratio of rosehips as i did from the apples, this means i have ended up with equal quantities of juice.
    Q1, Will it be ok to use equal volumes of rosehip and apple juice for this recipe?
    Q2, Should i reduce the sugar as the apples were sweet?

  7. Hi Maura,
    No this is my first time. I have to avoid chemicals at all costs Hope you find the tip as good as me. Good Luck with the Jam and Jelly making.

  8. Tip for removing glue from jam jars. Mix equal quantities bicarbonate of soda or bread soda with any oil veg or other. Coat the glue residue on the jars and leave for about an hour and hey presto no more sweating over cleaning the jars. Best of luck with the conserves,
    Great tips well done on the site.

    • mauramac

      Hi Una – thanks for this tip, I can’t wait to try it out as I have lots of jam jars donated to me and curse some of those labels. I use bottles of that sticky stuff remover which isn’t cheap. Have you ever gone onto the forums on here?

      • Hi Maura,
        No this is my first time to make a comment. I have to avoid chemicals at all cost hence I found this way of getting rid of the glues. Good Luck,
        Happy Jam and Jelly making

  9. elke dowkes

    Got my rosehips prepared, apples sorted, sugar ready-waiting for my small kilner jars now-looking so much forward to this preserve as I’ve just started making sloe gin, white rum and hedgerow fruit schnapps for Christmas presents! Your comments are so inspiring and positive that I can hardly wait to have a good taste on a slice of freshly baked bread elke

  10. mauramac

    Hi Louise – I’m not sure if Fiona is still answering questions here but you will get a lot of feedback if you join the forums on this site. Personally I only ever cut the sugar content back by 100 or 200 grams maximum. If any jam or jelly is too sweet for your taste why not add more lemon juice as the sugar content is there to ‘preserve’ the jam/jelly as well as to add taste, and could go mouldy if not enough is used. I would definitely try boiling again as there may not have been enough pectin in your apples. If you are desperate then add Certo to help achieve a set – but you will need to empty the jars back into the pan and boil again for a few more minutes either way. Good luck – and definitely try the forums. Very friendly group of people with lots of experience.

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