Every year I make a New Year‘s resolution to experience something new. One year, I decided to challenge myself to experimenting with cooked puddings. Every month, a new recipe would be tested out. I thought I‘d tried them all, but just this October I was introduced to my all-time favourite pudding. Just goes to show you can always learn something new.
My farmer is a great forager. She can see potential food in nearly anything growing on the Newfoundland landscape. One of the things we foraged together is rosehips. A rosehip (or rose hip) is the fruit of the rose plant. It‘s typically red or bright orange, but also sometimes dark purple or even black. Rosehips form after flowers are pollinated in the spring and they ripen in late summer and autumn.
Rosehips are used in lots of foods—jams and jellies, syrups, soups, pies and breads, teas and even wine. You can eat them raw, like a berry, if you can avoid the hairs and hard seeds inside the fruit. Rosehips are one of the richest plant sources available for vitamin C, so every good forager should be greedily protecting their rose bushes at this time of year. My farmer has friends who travel out of province for the winter. Their rose bushes would be the envy of any alert forager.
The friends live in Red Head, another of those breathtakingly beautiful coves along the Avalon Peninsula in Newfoundland.
Their back yard looks out over a long pasture which ends at a wooded area, through which the lovely East Coast Trail meanders beside the Atlantic Ocean.
And in this back yard grow those wondrous rose bushes.
There were at least a dozen enormous plants growing here, the hips bright and luscious, the thorny branches sagging with an unexpected harvest. We picked quietly for an hour, the farmer, my friend Thomas and I. Some of the fruit was overripe and therefore mushy and dark. Some of it was underripe and refused to come off the branches at all. Of those hips that were ripe, the berries with their serrated-edged leaves on the bottom (causing some concern to the uninitiated) came off relatively easily, oft-times leaving an opening at the top, from which one or more earwigs would sometimes apologetically emerge and scurry away. Thomas and I were doubtful of this bounty that the farmer was clearly relishing, her thoughts racing ahead to a miraculous pudding.
Back at the farm, the farmer took Thomas and me to the side garden, where we picked a small bowl of crab apples to add to the pudding. These too looked dubious just off the tree with their bruises and ridiculous tininess. Who actually eats crab apples, I wondered.
Our first duty in the kitchen was to clean the fruit. All leaves and stems were removed, all insects were escorted out the door. Then, pots of crab apples and rosehips were set to boil in a bit of water on the stove. Once cooked through, both fruits were very soft and the various elements—skin, flesh and seeds—separated easily.
That was the moment our farmer presented us with the most magical kitchen tool ever, a chinois.
A chinois is a funnel, in this case metal, and the holes are big enough to let fruit flesh through to a waiting pan while holding the seeds and skin back. After only a little pressing, the result inside the chinois is an unbelievable mess of seeds, pasted together with a little cooked rosehip (or later, crab apple) skin.
You use a large wooden pestle to press the fruit against the sides, forcing the flesh, or mash, out.
And the result outside the chinois, spatula-ed off the sides into the waiting pan, the result of all our doubting labours, is the pudding. The rosehips pudding is a lovely orange hue,
the crab apple pudding comes out a much deeper, reddish hue.
and combined, crab apples and rosehips, with just a touch of sweetener, make the best pudding known to man.
And I should know: I tried them all one year, as a New Year’s Resolution. Every kind of pudding I tried, except rosehip-crab apple pudding, now my favourite.
Heat the pudding and serve with a dollop of vanilla ice cream. Heaven ensues.