Rose Hip Applesauce

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It’s New Years Eve, and here in Southern California that can mean only one thing. Roses! The parade is the main event. Preparations have been underway for months. The bleachers are all up, and the porta-potty’s are in place. Our family likes to go to the parade route in the wee hours of New Year’s morning to see the floats up close, and watch them being judged. Then we go out for breakfast, and head back to bed. I hear there is some sort of sporting event, too.

To celebrate this annual event, this week recipe features the regal rose. While it may not be an ingredient you’re used to, the flowering rose has long been used in the Middle East and Asia as a flavoring, and was all the rage during the Victorian era. Edible flowers in general are experiencing a surge in popularity, and can be found in the produce section of most supermarkets.

To harness the rose’s flavor, the petals can be steeped into recipes or packed in sugar, which will absorb their oils. While the standard garden-variety roses work, the heirloom tea roses seem to provide the best flavor and most pungent aroma. Avoid hot-house roses as they may contain pesticides, which are not delicious.

Distilled rose water is an even easier way to add rose flavor to your favorite recipes. I love it in pound cake and sugar cookies. You can find it in Middle East, Indian, or Asian markets.

This recipe, however, uses the rose hip. Rose hips, classically used for jellies and teas, are the fruit of the rose plant. They appear as red, orange, or purple balls left on the bush after the flower has died. Roses with opened-faced flowers produce the best hips, with a fruity, spicy, tart flavor, a little like rhubarb. The best hips are firm, not mushy or wrinkled. Remove the seeds and skin and dry or purée the inner pulp.
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This dish is great on its own, spooned over fresh fruit and granola, or as a sweet accompaniment to roasted pork and lamb. Rose hips are a potent source of vitamin C, so this dish will also help keep scurvy at bay.

INGREDIENTS

6 fuji apples, peeled, cored, and diced
2 cups rose hips, bud end removed
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp. salt

METHOD

  1. In a large saucepan, combine apples, rose hips, water, sugar, lemon zest and juice, and salt. Place over medium heat and simmer, covered and stirring occasionally, until apples and rose hips are tender. Add more water during simmering if necessary.
  2. Remove the pan from heat, and pass mixture through a food mill or purée in a food processor, and then pass through a colander.
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