Wild About - Rose Hips (Rose Hip Gelee)

When it comes to creating recipes, inspiration comes from all sorts of strange places.  In the case of rose hip gelee, it came from a specialty cheese store.  There is an amazing cheese store not too far from here.  The entire cheese section is one giant refrigerated room, brrrr cold!  But it's well worth braving for all of the cheeses that are offered for sample.  And they even let you borrow down parkas while you are shopping!  So one day, while cruising through the chilly aisles, a cheese accompaniment caught my attention - quince paste.  Ok, I know that quince is an old fruit, something like an apple/pear, but what is quince paste?  It's like an ultra thick and reduced jam; you can cut into it with a knife and it will hold it's shape.

Since I haven't seen any quince around here to forage, my mind started rolling over the other possibilities.  Apple?  Kinda ordinary.  Plum?  Maybe too moist?  Back to things related to apples.  I've got it, rose hips! And since rose hip paste sounds rather uninspiring, I decided to call it rose hip gelee.

To make rose hip gelee, lightly chop whatever quantity of rose hips that you have, place them in a pan with double that amount of water, and let boil for 20 minutes.  Strain out solids, saving liquid.  Place the boiled rose hips into cheese cloth, and give it a good squeeze, so that all of the pulp comes out.  Combine the pulp with the saved liquid, and add an equal amount of sugar (technically by weight, but I never weigh anything).  Bring to a simmer, and let the mixture bubble away until it is so thick that when you draw a line on the bottom of your pan with a spoon, it doesn't close up straight away.

Pour the rose hip gelee into a lightly greased pan (size will depend on amount, aim for 1" thickness of fruit).  If you live in a dry environment like I do, put the pan in a cool dry place for a week or so.  Otherwise, place in an oven on lowest setting (no greater than 125 degrees F) for 1-2 hours to further dry the rose hip gelee.

Rose hip gelee pairs beautifully with sharp cheeses.  I particularly like it with goat cheeses.  I've also found it to be quite nice in meat sandwiches.  Another way that I serve rose hip gelee is to cut it into cubes and roll it in nuts; it tastes rather like a Turkish delight that way.  Experiment.  I find that rose hips taste like sun dried tomato meets rose petal meets tea.

Rose hips are the herb of the month for the Wild Things Round Up in February.  Bek of Cauldrons and Crockpots and I would love it if you could contribute your rose hip recipe at the end of the month.  If you'd like to play along, please leave your email address with this linky, and you'll get a reminder to submit your recipe at the end of the month.

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