Art by Mari Basiletti

Rosehip jam

The Cove Journal | by JoDee Samuelson

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Snow fell silently all night and the morning revealed a world wrapped in a sparkling silver mantle. The sun raised one sleepy eye above the horizon, reluctantly warming branches and twigs until finally a few ruby red rosehips lifted their heads out of the snow.

If we lived in a different age I would have harvested these rose hips and used them for tea or jam. But we live in a time of plenty when edible wild plants are right in front of us and never get touched.

I recently had a phone call with my daughter-in-law’s father, a real old-fashioned European gentleman. He wanted to talk about his childhood in Slovakia during World War II when, although his family owned a bit of land, they lived in abject poverty. Many times there was no food in the house and he and his sister would cry, “Mama, Mama, we’re hungry. Give us food!” His mother would tell her children, “Drink water. It will fill you up.” His mother had nothing to eat either. When this went on too long she would say, “Go to the neighbor’s and ask for a piece of bread. Tell them I will give them bread when I have some.” Because they had a few chickens they were required to pay the government thirty eggs a month as a form of taxation; when the hens weren’t laying, his mother had to buy eggs to pay the taxman.

As my friend talked I couldn’t help feeling grateful about our own government, how it is bending over backwards to keep us alive and healthy with free vaccinations, Covid tests, financial top-ups. And if we raise hens we can keep the eggs to feed our own families.

So I am looking at rosehips in a different light, thinking maybe I should do something with such valuable free food. I could make rosehip jam: Simmer equal parts rosehips and sugar plus one cup of water per pound of rosehips. When tender drain and rub through a sieve. Measure pulp and add equal amount of sugar. Simmer till thick. Presto! A big pot of rosehip jam… but will we eat it? Not sure.

Okay, how about cold Swedish Rosehip Soup served with whipped cream and slivered almonds? (Find recipe online.) That might be worth a try… some day. The thing is, here in the Cove most of us have everything we need without adding rosehips to the mix.

Still, it’s good to know how to prepare these things, just in case.

We held a neighbourhood bonfire in the schoolyard a few weeks back and met some new people who’ve moved to the Cove “looking for quiet, friendship and fresh air.” Oh, they’ll find plenty of that, but they’ll also find apprehension, relief, selfishness, generosity, bad news, good news, tears, laughter… in other words, life in the Cove will soon feel pretty much like home.

But if these new neighbours like seaweed pie, stir-fried spruce buds, raspberry leaf tea, and rosehip jam, well then, welcome to paradise.

Jodee SamuelsonThe Cove Journal
JoDee Samuelson

Born and raised in the Canadian prairies, JoDee now lives in “the Cove” on the Island’s beautiful South Shore. She was a maker of animated films for most of her working life, and presently putters at less demanding artistic ventures like carving owls, painting Island scenes on small woodblocks, and playing ukelele.