The beach rose, or rosa rugosa, is a frequent sight on the Vineyard. Originally from Asia, it is called “hamanasu” in Japan, a name that roughly translates to “shore eggplant.”
It generally grows close to the ocean, along sand dunes and beaches, lending it the nickname of “saltspray rose.” Because of its hardiness, the plant is often used as a landscape decoration. The flowers can range in color from white to purple, and produce a sweet scent that fills the beach air on a summer day.
While the flowers are pleasant enough, as well as edible, our real interest lies in the fruit, or “hips” of the plant, small orange-red ovals that look somewhat like cherry tomatoes.
Rose hips, also known as rose haws, first appear in the spring, and ripen during the summer months.
The hips are packed with vitamin c and contain lycopene, a strong antioxidant.
The fruit is used to make everything from jams and jellies, to teas, and alcoholic drinks.
We found a recipe for Rose-Hip Paste in The Martha’s Vineyard Cookbook, by Louise Tate King & Jean Stewart Wexler. It calls for 3 cups rose hips, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel and sugar to taste.
To prep the hips, we cut off the stem and bud ends and sliced them in half, scooping the seeds into a bowl using a small spoon. The fruit has a hairy lining that must be removed, as it can cause itching.
Once the fruit and lining have been separated, simmer the seeds in enough water to cover, for roughly 10 minutes. When done, strain the seeds out and reserve the liquid for later. While cooking the seeds, place the fruit in a pot with 3 cups of water. Bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes or so. Keep an eye on the pot, making sure that the water doesn’t evaporate.
Remove from heat and let things cool off for a bit. Again, strain off the liquid and reserve it as well. Next, run the cooked hips through a food grinder or food mill with a fine blade. If they are difficult to grind, you can add a bit of the saved cooking liquid.
Combine the ground hips with the cooking liquids, lemon juice and peel. The recipe calls for measuring the mixture and then adding the same amount of sugar. We had about 2½ cups of mixture, but only used 1½ cups of sugar, as we don’t like things to be too sweet.
Mix everything together and pour into a saucepan. Heat the mixture over low, bringing to a simmer, stirring often, until thickened. To test, place a small amount of the mix on an ice cube, you should be able to lift it off in one piece.
Remove from heat, let cool for a few minutes and then stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until you are left with a thick paste, about ten minutes. Line a pan with waxed paper and pour in the mixture. Place in the refrigerator for 24 hours and allow to set.
We served the paste (ours came out more like a spread) on a cracker with some Cypress Grove Midnight Moon, an aged goat’s milk cheese, that the folks at Black Sheep suggested. The paste has a flavor similar to apricots, with a sweetness that pairs well with the sharp cheese.
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