Rosehip jelly and rowan berry jelly

Nypongelé och rönnbärsgelé

A jar of rosehip and apple jelly

Rosehips and rowan berries (from mountain-ash/sorbus/witchwood trees) can both be used to make wonderful sparkly jellies which go well on toast, warm scones or with game and roast meats. Both are fairly sweet because of the sugar used when making them, but rowan jelly is a bit tarter whereas rosehip jelly has a slight honey-like flavour. 

Both rosehips and rowan berries have an abundance of vitamin C but they are low in pectin, so apples are added to help the jelly to set. Crab apples are ideal because they usually release more liquid, but any small windfall apples can be used instead if you prefer. John Duxbury


Recipe summary for rosehip jelly


• Any type of rosehips or rowan berries will do. Pick the biggest you can find and only those that are a nice deep red colour; leave any that are underripe for another day.
• The fruit proportions below can be adjusted if necessary. You can use equal quantities of apples and hips/berries or even one-third apples and two-thirds hips/berries.
• Both rosehips and rowan berries have a slightly sweeter flavour after a hard frost, but not enough to justify waiting to pick them or risk them going mouldy.
• Rosehips and rowan berries freeze well and they are slightly easier to prepare after freezing.
• Use a pan with wide mouth and only fill fill it a third of the way up, so there is plenty of room for the mixture to bubble-up without boiling over.
• Do not stir the mixture once it is boiling as this lowers the temperature, but use a wooden spoon to the check that it is not sticking on the base of the pan.
• Don't push the rosehips or the rowan berries through the muslin cloth as the jelly is then likely to end up cloudy: leave it to drain overnight.


900 g (2 lb) apples
450 g (1 lb) rosehips or rowan berries
500 g (1 lb) sugar (see step 7)
1   lemon, juice only
½ tsp   butter, optional

Method for rosehip jelly

1. Quarter the apples and cut out any bruised or rotten parts, but there is no need to peel them or to remove the cores or stalks.

2. Place the quartered apples in a saucepan and add enough water to cover the apples.

3. Bring to the boil and cook until soft, about 10 minutes but the time depends on the variety.

Chopped rosehips

4. Meanwhile chop the rosehips in half with a knife or put them in a food processor and give them a few whizzes.

Stewed apples and rosehips

5. When the apples are soft, add the rosehips and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the hips are tender. (Top up with a bit more water if necessary.)

Apples and rosehips being drained through muslin

6. Filter the contents using a jelly bag or a muslin cloth. Leave the juice to drain overnight.

7. Weigh the juice and add the same quantity of sugar, usually about 500 g (1 lb), and the juice of 1 lemon.

8. Pop 3 or 4 saucers into a freezer.

9. Pour the mixture into a large saucepan and heat slowly, stirring frequently, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture comes to the boil. Then boil rapidly for 5-10 minutes, until the jelly coats the back of a wooden spoon. Check that the jelly will set by doing a saucer test:

• remove the pan from the heat,
• take one of the saucers from the freezer and pour half a teaspoon of the jelly on to it,
• wait one minute and then stand the saucer on its side,
• the jelly is ready if it only runs slowly down the saucer and it wrinkles slightly when pushed with a finger.

If is not ready, return the pan to the heat for one minute and then repeat the test. (Take care not to boil for too long because apples are high in pectin, so the jelly can end up overset. If in doubt, it is better for the jelly to be slightly underset rather than overset.)

10. When the jelly is ready, remove any scum with a spoon, pour the jelly into sterilised jars* and store in a cool dark place until required. (If the scum is difficult to remove, stir in half a teaspoon of butter to help to disperse the scum.)

Method for rowan berry jelly

As above, but add the berries do not need cutting up and they should be placed in the pan with the apples in step 2. You may also need to simmer the mixture for a longer in step 5 to get it soft and pulpy.

*Sterilising jars

Sterilise the jars and their lids by washing and placing in a warm oven (150°C, 300°F, gas 2) for 10 minutes.


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John Duxbury
Editor and Founder