Easy Peasy Candied Rosehips

In my home town, we have a very special place called the Dushanbe Teahouse. The tea house was a gift from our sister city, which is located in Tajikistan (a country I’d love to visit someday), and is a stunning building that is carved by hand. When I was in high school, the tea house opened as a restaurant and (of course) a purveyor of wonderful teas. The tea house is a place that has gifted me with many great food memories, and served as the venue for meals and conversation with some of my favorite Coloradans. One of these was the candied rosehips that were brought out as a nibbler for guests while they looked over the menu. I remember gobbling down the entire serving before the waiter even returned with my water during my first visit!

Apparently, I wasn’t the only one, because the teahouse stopped serving the rosehips not long after (when I asked, they said that the starter was so popular that it was costing them a lot of money to provide them to patrons). That experience is what got me interested in rosehips though, and is the reason I always leap at the chance to eat anything with rosehips in it. Today, I was pondering on what to make for New Year’s treats, and glanced over at a box of dried rosehips I bought before the holiday mayhem and set aside. This is my last New Year’s in Tallahassee (I’m moving to Brooklyn in May), and I’ve made some truly incredible friends during my time here. A few of them are coming over to have champagne and snacks on New Year’s Eve, and I thought the best way to celebrate them and all the wonderful things they’ve brought to my life would be to share a dish with them that takes me back to my home.

If you have a special event coming up (New Year’s Eve party, perhaps?) or are looking for a way to use up rosehips, this is a great last-minute treat. Candying dried rosehips is super easy (I promise!) and you’ll be rewarded with a pretty and tasty snack that is incredibly addictive. If you don’t have dried rosehips on hand, don’t fret: you can usually find them in specialty markets and Middle Eastern markets. I used the vanilla sugar to add a bit of warmth, but regular ol’ granulated sugar works just fine here, and you can play around with adding your own flavors. This amount serves 4-6 people.

Candied Rosehips

-2/3 c vanilla sugar
-pinch of sea salt
-1/4 cup water
-1 cup dried rosehips

1. Add sugar, water, and salt to a flat-bottomed pan (I used a medium skillet)
2. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until it forms a hard ball when dropped in ice water (Read more about candy-making stages here.)
3. Toss the rosehips in the pan, and toss to evenly coat. Work quickly, since the sugar will start to harden once you remove it from the heat.
4. As quickly as possible, transfer the rosehips to a baking sheet that has been coated with butter and sprinkled with sugar. Make sure they are in one layer (rather than piled up on top of each other) for cooling
5. Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes, then serve!

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Vanilla Sugar and Vanilla Extract on the Cheap

Most people (myself included, until recently) buy vanilla extract at the store, but it often has way more ingredients in it than what you actually need. Vanilla sugar might not be something you consider a kitchen staple, but it should be. It’s great in everything from coffee to baked goods, and is wonderful sprinkled on fruit. The best thing is that it’s ridiculously easy to make. Extract and sugar are both great ways to repurpose those vanilla pods you have left over from vanilla bean-related cooking projects, making them even more cost-effective. By making them yourself, you get tasty treats that taste better than what you can buy at the store and that aren’t over-processed or filled with mystery ingredients. Both of these are for foolproof ways to start building a DIY pantry–I’ll have plenty more ideas for DIY pantry goods in the future so be sure to check back!

Vanilla Sugar
1 vanilla bean
sugar
Jar or other container with sealing lid

-Slice the vanilla bean lengthwise to expose the seeds.
-Place the vanilla bean in a jar and fill with enough sugar to cover it.
-Wait 3-4 weeks. You can stir the sugar around occasionally, but  vanilla is potent enough that you probably won’t need to.
-Enjoy.

Vanilla Extract
1 vanilla bean
small bottle or container with lid
vodka (preferably a vodka that you would drink on its own–the really cheap stuff could give the extract an ‘off’ flavor)

-Slice the vanilla bean lengthwise to expose the seeds.
-Place in bottle and fill with enough vodka to cover it.
-Wait 3-4 weeks.

Easy, huh?