As difficult as it can be for me to believe sometimes, there are people out there who just don’t get foraging. Why spend an afternoon hiking in the cold fall air and plucking small fruit from thorn-covered branches, only to then spend all evening meticulously processing your harvest and cooking it into a thick jam? Wouldn’t it be simpler to just go to the grocery store for a jar of preserves?

The short answer is, of course, yes. But a simple amassing of foodstuffs is not the only thing foraging represents. We are lucky enough to live in an age of convenience. Most of us no longer rely on our own hands to produce preserved foods for the cold season ahead. We have access to ready-made products that require just a few minutes in the toaster or microwave to be ready. We can eat on the move, multitasking the way our production-based society has taught us to.

But foraging offers so much that the supermarket does not, from the joys of being outside in the frosty morning listening to quail burrowing in the dry bushes to the exotic flavors that wild foods provide. There is simply nothing else that tastes like rose hip jam, for example. It has a tart flavor slightly reminiscent of crisp apples, but with a complexity that is all its own. No spices need to be added to bring out the beauty of this wild flavor. No pectin is needed either, as rose hips are all packaged up to provide their own. This is slow food at its best, a chance for communion with nature, for the community of a group of family or friends processing rose hips while talking and laughing, for the warmth of the smell of preserves on the stove.

If you were to nibble on a wild rose hip in the fall, you’d find that you have to take tiny, squirrel-size bites to keep from breaking through to the center where hard seeds and irritating hairs fill your mouth with unpleasantness. You’d find that the little nibbles of rose hip you taste would be tannic, slightly bitter, and tart, though this varies greatly by time of year, type of rose hip, and number of frosts—I have tasted rose hips that were hard and crunchy, and others that were sweetened and softened by many frosts, yielding a sweet-sour paste that was an unexpected treat. I often nibble on rose hips on my morning walks and forest wanders, though many non-foragers may wonder why I bother. Perhaps Henry David Thoreau can explain better than I can:

“To appreciate the wild and sharp flavor of these October fruits, it is necessary that you be breathing the sharp October or November air. The out-door air and exercise which the walker gets give a different tone to his palate, and he craves a fruit which the sedentary would call harsh and crabbed. They must be eaten in the fields, when your system is all aglow with exercise, when the frosty weather nips your fingers, the wind rattles the bare boughs or rustles the few remaining leaves, and the jay is heard screaming around. What is sour in the house a bracing walk makes sweet.”

Ah, yes. “What is sour in the house a bracing walk makes sweet.” Indeed, it’s true—I crave the bitter tartness of the wild when my nose is red with cold and frosty air fills my lungs. It fills a void in my sensory scope of the world. It just seems to fit, the same way the scene would be empty without the rustling of little birds in the bushes below, no doubt feasting on the same seeds I carefully avoid. How many other moments of sweetness can be found on those bracing walks? How many problems solved while ruminating to the pace of your steps? Foraging is its own kind of sweetness, and rose hip jam is but one example of what can be gleaned from the wild. Dedicate yourself to the whole experience.


I have to break it to you: Rose hip jam is going to take some work. There are two main ways to tackle it, and which one you choose is totally a matter of personal preference. Just be prepared for it to take some time, patience, and dedication. Rose hips should be harvested after the first frost, if possible. They become much sweeter and a little softer, yielding a richer and smoother jam. Make sure they are completely ripe (a rich bright red) before you begin.

Inside each rose hip are a bunch of seeds surrounded by fine hairs. It’s very important to remove these hairs, as they can be irritating to the digestive system and mucous membranes they come into contact with. Your options are:

• Remove the stems and any leaves from the rose hips, then place them in a saucepan with twice the amount of water as the rose hips (so if you have 1 cup of rose hips, you’ll need 2 cups of water). Bring to a boil and cook for about 30 minutes, or until the rose hips are very soft. Mash them often using a potato masher. Once you have a fairly smooth paste, press it through a kitchen sieve to remove the seeds and any large pieces of the rose hips. Then, strain through muslin several times to make sure you have removed all the tiny little hairs. This technique may seem like less work, but it’s going to take some time, patience, and shoulder muscles.

• Option two is to remove the seeds and hairs beforehand. Using a sharp knife, cut all your rose hips in half. Then use your fingers (tip: wear gloves to prevent an uncomfortable sticky, itchy feeling) or a tiny spoon to scoop out all the seeds and hairs. Rinse the rose hips well. Add the rose hip halves to a pan with an equal amount of water and boil until very soft, about a half hour. Mash with a potato masher as described above. Press through a sieve and then through muslin at least once to make sure all those little hairs are gone.

At this point, you should have a fairly smooth puree of rose hips, sans seeds or hairs. Measure it out, then add an equal amount of sugar, plus 1 tablespoon of lemon juice for every cup of puree. (This will help keep the jam’s vibrant red color.) Simmer together, stirring often, until the mixture has thickened to your liking. The natural pectin in the rose hips will create a jam-like texture without the need for store-bought pectin. Remember that the mixture will continue to thicken as it cools. One helpful way of determining the set of your mixture is to have a plate in the fridge. Periodically, place a dab of the rose hip mixture onto the plate and let it sit for about a minute. This is approximately the consistency of your finished jam.

Once your jam reaches the consistency you like, remove it from heat and pour into sterilized glass jars. Store in the fridge for up to three months. (You can also water-bath can your jars for longer-term storage.)


Like the rose hip jam that fills them, true yeast-risen doughnuts take a little patience. Yeast is a living thing and needs to be treated with care—that means being mindful of the temperatures you subject it to (no boiling water! ow!) and where it will thrive. Yeast-risen confections are delicate things, but that doesn’t mean they are difficult. Just be aware of their needs as you allow your hands to form them.

¾ cup lukewarm milk (think a cozy temperature for a bath and no hotter)
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
4 large eggs, room temperature
¼ cup maple syrup
¾ cup unsalted butter
3¾ cups all-purpose flour, plus a little extra
1½ teaspoons fine sea salt
Vegetable oil for frying
Jam for filling
Rose hip sugar, below

Melt the butter and allow it to cool slightly. In a large bowl, combine the lukewarm milk with the butter, eggs, yeast, and honey. Mix briefly to combine.

Sift in the flour and the sea salt and mix on low speed (if using an electric mixer) or by hand until all the flour is incorporated. (It’s okay if there are some lumps in the dough at this point.) slightly dampened clean kitchen towel, then allow it to rest for 2 hours at a comfortable room temperature.

Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight. (Or up to four days.)

Dust the surface of the chilled dough with flour and gently knead it into an even ball. This shouldn’t take long—about 30 seconds.

Roll the dough out to a half-inch thickness. Using a jar, cup, or cookie cutter, cut out two half-inch rounds of dough. Place these on a lightly floured surface and allow them to rest while you heat the oil.

Place the oil into a pot that has at least 4-inch tall sides. (Oil should be 2 to 3 inches deep.) Heat until it is between 365ºF and 375ºF. This is the perfect temperature for frying doughnuts: too hot and they burn on the outside before the insides are fully cooked; too cold and the doughnuts will soak up a lot of oil before they are done cooking. If possible, use a candy thermometer to determine the temperature of the oil. You’ll also want to set up a doughnut draining station by placing a few layers of paper towel over a wire cooling rack.

Gently and carefully drop three doughnuts into the hot oil and fry until the bottoms are a light golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes. Gently flip and cook the other side. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on the cooling rack to drain. Continue with the rest of the doughnuts, being careful not
to overcrowd the pan of oil, which will prevent the doughnuts from rising completely. Keep an eye on your oil temperature and adjust the heat on your stovetop as needed.

Once the doughnuts have cooled for about 5 minutes, toss them in the rose hip sugar to coat them completely.

Poke a hole in the side of each doughnut with a wooden spoon handle, being careful not to poke all the way through, and use a piping tip with a large hole to fill them with rose hip jam, about 2 tablespoons per doughnut.


It’s especially important to make sure that the rose hips you use for this recipe are completely free of the irritating hairs they contain. You won’t be running this sugar through muslin to remove them, so do your best to make sure they are completely removed and rinsed out.

½ cup cleaned rose hips, pips and hairs removed, then rinsed
2 cups granulated sugar

Rinse the rose hips and then dry with a paper towel.

Combine the rose hips and ½ cup sugar in a food processor and grind until the rose hips are broken up into small pieces and a paste has started to form.

Add the rest of the sugar and pulse to mix evenly. Spread out the sugar on a clean baking tray to dry out a bit before dunking the doughnuts in it.


Harness the richness of autumn apples with these flavorful gluten-free doughnuts! I adapted a recipe from Gluten Free Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, which is a fantastic resource for gluten-free baking enthusiasts. To make these doughnuts, you’ll want to use fresh-pressed and unfiltered apple juice to get the best flavor. I like to forage apple trees on abandoned farmsteads, but there are also plenty of apples and crabapples to be found in the city. Use a cider press or juicer to extract their juice for this recipe.

1 cup gluten-free flour mixture of choice
(see below for my recipe)
2 cups cornstarch
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 tablespoons granulated yeast
1½ teaspoons salt
1 cup lukewarm apple cider
(the fresh-pressed cloudy kind)
2 eggs
½ cup honey
½ cup unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Vegetable oil, for frying
Glaze, below
Edible gold dust

Whisk together the flour mixture and other dry ingredients (including yeast and salt) in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer.

Add the cider, honey, eggs, butter (melt, then let cool to room temperature), and vanilla. Mix everything together until the mixture is uniform and smooth. (This is most easily done with a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.) The dough should be slightly wet but not too sticky.

Cover and allow to rest until the dough rises, about 2 hours at room temperature. Refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Dust the surface of the dough with rice flour, then place it on a floured surface.

Roll dough to a thickness of half an inch, making sure it doesn’t stick to the surface or the rolling pin by using flour as needed.

Using a doughnut cutter or round biscuit cutters, cut the dough into doughnuts (about 3 inches across with a 1-inch hole in the middle.)

Place the doughnuts on a floured surface and cover for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, using a deep heavy-bottomed saucepan or deep fryer, heat 3 inches of oil until it reaches 360ºF to 370ºF. (Use a candy thermometer to measure.)

Carefully drop or lower two doughnuts into the oil. Cook for 2 minutes, then carefully flip over and cook the other side for another minute. Both sides should be golden brown.

Use a slotted spoon to remove doughnuts from the oil and set them on some paper towels to drain. Cook the rest of your doughnuts in this way, being careful not to crowd the pan, which would prevent them from rising properly.

Let cool completely. Meanwhile, set up a cooling rack over a baking sheet.

When the doughnuts are cool enough to touch, dip them halfway into the glaze, then flip over and place on the cooling sheet to drop off excess. Let the doughnuts cool and the glaze dry, then use your clean finger to add a little streak of edible gold luster to the top of each doughnut.

Glaze and Decorations Ingredients:

½ teaspoon maple extract
3 cups powdered sugar
Pinch of salt
½ to ¾ cup apple juice
Several small apples
Cinnamon powder

Mix together the powdered sugar, maple extract, salt, and ½ cup of apple juice to make a smooth mixture. Add more apple juice, a little at a time, until the icing has a thin consistency.

Use a mandolin or carefully slice the apples into even, thin slices crosswise. Cut each of those in half to make two half-circles. Bring a small pot of water to boil and boil the slices for 2 to 4 minutes, until softened enough to bend but not at all mushy. Drain on paper towels.

Dip the warm doughnuts in the glaze, then overlap the softened apple slices all the way around each doughnut. Finish with a dusting of cinnamon.

*My all-purpose gluten-free bread flour mixture is:
4 parts white rice flour
2 parts sorghum powder
2 parts tapioca flour
1 part potato starch
1 tablespoon xanthan gum for every 3 cups
of flour mixture

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Miss Wondersmith highlights the beauty of her Pacific Northwest home through her handcrafted glass and ceramic artwork, recipes featuring foraged foods, and carefully curated experiences for strangers (which she gifts through invites hidden in public places!). Visit her online at