Let’s talk rose hips. Specifically, what to do with them after you pick them. Today, I’m bringing you rose hip ketchup. Nope, not syrup or jelly, but something a little more original and not usually shared. If you have ever cooked down rose hips, you already know they have more of a tomato flavor than they do a sweet taste, so I went with savory instead of sweet with this recipe.
Rose hips grow worldwide and give foragers a delicious offering for those willing to spend the time to pick them. Each fall here in Colorado, around late September and through October, the common mountain rose starts to brown and die away for the season, but a brilliant red rose hip comes in behind it and is ready to be picked.
What Are Rose Hips
All types of roses grow rose hips, but here in Colorado, we have a wild mountain rose often referred to as the prickly rose or dog rose; this plant’s scientific name is Rosa acicularis. In the summer, they grow a delicate pink flower that wilts away and produces a rose hip in the fall.
The rose hip is a small bulge below the flower before it dies. After the flower starts to die off, the bulge grows into a rose hip, which is the seed pod for the flower to keep reproducing. With that said, foragers always like to remind pickers to leave a few rose hips behind so the plant can keep producing. Each rose hip provides numerous, if not hundreds, of seeds for future growth.
Rose hips provide more vitamin C than oranges, which makes them a fantastic resource for fighting off colds and coughs – a cordial recipe is excellent for a quick immune boost. However, you shouldn’t eat raw rose hips because the seeds aren’t very palatable, and there are cyanide type chemicals in the furry inside part that can be irritating. Cooking the rose hips eliminates the cyanide properties, and using a fine sieve helps separate the seeds. With that said, have we eaten them raw? Yes, we have, and we’re here today to talk about it, but I need to share a fair warning about the potential of them making you sick.
Foraging for Rose Hips
Picking rose hips always happens right around hunting season for us, so if we aren’t finding the animals, we start picking rose hips. If we’re scouting for the upcoming season, we’re also looking for rose hips. They’re easy to find from the roadside, but it’s best to collect them further away from the road so that you know they’re less distributed from humans and vehicles.
Remember gloves when picking rose hips; as with any rose bush, thorns will inevitably end up pricking your hand as you pull the rose hips. Gloves help protect your hands from those thorns.
Most foragers would share that it’s best to pick rose hips after the first frost as it makes them sweeter. Either way, just make sure they are bright red and not wilted yet.
Raised to Forage
When I was young, my aunt would take us to local farms to pick blackberries and green beans. Picking rose hips remind me of that. With the blackberries, we’d always get little thorns in our hands, but I remember being so happy to bring my mom home a small basket of the blackberries I picked. The green beans remind me of most people’s separation process with removing the rose hips’ ends. My aunt would put on a good kids movie, sit us all down with a bushel of green beans, and show us how to remove the beans’ ends. Little did we know we were being used to do the dirty work.
With rose hips, I used to remove the ends, but holy heck is that tedious! I decided to just boil them down with everything connected. Guess what, it works and saves time.
Do it; you’ll thank me later.
What to Make with Rose Hips
Traditionally, you hear of people making jelly, syrup, and tea out of rose hips, but I’m a rebel and not much of a fan of sweets. Savory, on the other hand, is my Achilles heel – I’ll take it any day! The flavor of rose hips is more tomato-based than floral (to me, anyway), so it only makes sense to run with that and incorporate it into savory dishes. But, here are a few other recipe ideas for rose hips because you’re here and reading this.
- Cordial (good for colds or as an immune booster, as a spritzer, or in a cocktail)
- Fruit Leather
- Ice Cream
- Infuse: Liquor (bloody marys anyone?), Oil, or Vinegar
Let’s Talk Rose Hip Ketchup
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves; this rose hip ketchup recipe will not taste like good ole’ Heinz ketchup. It never will. I’m not sure if any homemade ketchup will ever taste like that, so if that’s what you’re here for, keep searching, my friend.
I can say that it is an excellent sauce to use with different cuts of meat — damn good on pork chops, but quickly a favorite on chicken and wild game.
Right off of the stove, the apple cider vinegar can be overwhelming, but give it a day or two to sit and that flavor mellows out, the spices meld, and the rose hip ketchup develops into a fantastic flavor that would make any chef look like a pro-sauce boss with foraged foods.
However, going back to Heinz, their recipe became famous because they made it different from anyone else. They added way more vinegar and way more sugar than any other ketchup style at the time. It was risky, but it worked because they focused on bringing in the five flavor profiles: bitter, salty, sour, sweet, and umami. Knowing that, however, is also understanding why this recipe works. It does use more apple cider vinegar, and brown sugar than I would ever think would work, but it does. Don’t question the amounts; just go with it. Want to learn more about Heinz? Check out this interesting article: Ketchup vs. Catsup: Why Heinz is Irreplaceable.
Seriously, make this recipe, pat yourself on the back, and let the sauce speak for itself as everyone enjoys. After everyone tastes a bite, tell the story of how you made the sauce by picking all of those rose hips yourself. Impressive. You deserve the high-five.
Now, let’s get cookin’ good lookin’.
Rose Hip Ketchup
- 12 cups Rose Hips There is no need to separate the ends from the rose hips since you’ll be using a fine sieve to strain away all the ends and seeds.
- 1 Anaheim Pepper
- 1 Onion
- 2 Garlic Cloves
- 1 Red Bell Pepper
- ½ cup Apple Cider Vinegar
- ½ cup Brown Sugar
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1/4 tsp Allspice
- ½ tsp Dry Mustard
- 1/4 tsp Celery Seed
- 1 cup Water
- There is no need to separate the ends from the rose hips since you’ll be using a fine sieve to strain away all the ends and seeds.
- Cover 12 cups of rose hips with water and bring to a boil. Turn down to a slow simmer and cook for 30 minutes.
- While the rose hips are boiling, chop the anaheim pepper (deseed and devein if you want to remove some of the spice), onion, and garlic.
- Put a fine sieve over a bowl and pour the pot of rose hips into the sieve to separate the liquid from the rose hips. Reserve the liquid as a broth for another recipe (chili maybe?) or use it to thin out the ketchup later.
- Pour the rose hips into a separate bowl from the fine sieve and place the strainer over another bowl to collect the rose hip puree.
- A cup at a time, push the rose hips through the fine sieve. Scoop out the rose hip part that remains in the sieve and put it back in the cooking pot you originally cooked them in. Do this for the remaining rose hips. It takes a bit of time to get it pushed through, and I remind myself every year that I’m going to get a food mill, but here I am still doing it the hard way. Taste the puree, so you know what you’re working with – kind of like a tomato paste.
- Cover the rose hips once again with water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes.
- Strain them once again, as you did in the step above.
- Heat olive oil and saute onion, garlic, and peppers for 8 minutes.
- Add in the apple cider vinegar, stir, and then add in the rose hip puree. Stir to blend the ingredients.
- Add in remaining ingredients and cook at a low simmer for 10 minutes.
- Using an immersion blender, blend the ingredients in the pot until smooth. You can use a regular blender to do this too. If the pot you cooked the ketchup in is Teflon, transfer to a glass bowl before using the immersion blender. Then, like my chef, buddy said, “Throw out that Teflon pot and get something that doesn’t cause you cancer,” and then he threw my last Teflon pot away.
- This recipe makes a little under three pints of ketchup, which is a lot to eat before it goes bad sitting in the fridge. I divide the recipe between two ball glasses that I can in a hot water bath for 15 minutes (adjust for altitude – my real-time at 7,000 feet elevation is 30 minutes). The remaining ketchup I put into a salad dressing jar to be used over the next few weeks.