Making Rosehip Fruit Leather
Rosehips are traditionally used for making rosehip syrup, but there's so much more you can do with them.
I recently led a group of families on a foraging walk and provided sweet biscuits with rosehip fruit in them. Fleshy, tart bites of red fruit nestled within a biscuit base. They went down really well!
Preserving rosehip fruit
Here I share how to store rosehip flesh by making a rosehip fruit leather. This is a labour of love - a process to be enjoyed, with a fruity goal in mind. The result is a delicious and versatile sheet of pure fruit which can be stored for months and used as a snack or to flavour; tarts, chocolate and ice cream to savoury rosehip crackers.
Which rosehips to use for making rosehip fruit leather
Using Japanese Rose (Rosa rugosa) hips will enable you to reap more fruit for your work, they’re a larger hip than our native rosehips making them easier to handle.
Where to find Rosa rugosa rosehips
These plants have naturalised in many places, originally many were planted on sand dunes and shingle beaches to help stabilise the ground. Hence one of their names - beach rose. You can also find them on waste ground, or in cultivated gardens. Several times I've befriended someone who has them growing in their garden. I gather their hips in exchange for a proportion of what I make. It's always gratefully received.
When to gather rosehips
Start looking out for hips from late summer & through autumn. You could of course wait for after the first frost, at the risk of the birds getting them first. Living in Cornwall, with a milder climate & being impatient to utilise these fruits, I normally pick them as soon as possible & freeze them to ‘fake’ the first frost. I’m looking for the dark red fruits, not too orange in colour. Freezing them also means you can store them until you’re ready to embark on processing them.
How to make rosehip fruit leather
Defrost or pick the fruits after first frost. Start processing them as quickly as possible so not to loose valuable vitamin C. Carefully and patiently remove the flesh from around the outside of the fruit, careful not to dislodge the tight ball of hairy seeds. You want to avoid these seeds as they can irritate the digestive tract.
This is a messy and fiddly job, so take your time, you’ll be left with a pile of fleshy rosehip pulp, and a pile of hairy seeds. Discard the latter. You may want to chop the pulp a little, to ensure that you don’t have too bigger pieces of flesh or fruit skin.
If you’re using a de-hydrator, follow the instructions for making fruit leather, and spread the fruit pulp onto the teflon sheet before drying the fruit for several hours. If using an oven, line a dish or baking tray with oven-proof clingfilm, and spread the pulp on, about 2mm thick. Put the oven on the lowest heat and leave for up to 12 hours.
The consistency of the fruit leather can be altered according to taste - slightly moist and chewy or dry and almost brittle. The latter will keep longer. When needed, rehydrate the fruit and blend or cut and grind into flakes/powder.
What is the flavour of rosehips?
What I love about working with wild fruit is the flavour is so unique. These particular fruits - Rosa rugosa are not as sweet nor tart as Rosa canina (Dog rose). Instead, they have been compared to processing fruit this way is that there is no need to add sugar. Instead, you can get to taste a mixture of natural sweetness & tarty-ness of this amazing super fruit.
Once you’ve made your fruit leather, either keep it whole or cut it into strips and store in a dry place. It will keep well for over one year.
You can chew on the rosehip fruit leather as a snack, powder it and use it in Rosehip and Buckwheat Crackers. Alternatively, break it into small pieces and rehydrate in a small amount of warm water to use in desserts.