Try This Exquisite Guelder Rose Jelly Recipe

This Guelder rose (Viburnum opulus) jelly recipe is quite simply divine. The plant is deciduous, and usually found in hedgerows, scrub and woodlands. It favours damp places and can be found along streams, but it also has the ability to thrive in quite dry spaces too.

Tasting the raw berries (which are mildly toxic if consumed in too great a quantity) will most likely result in much spitting, and verbal exclamations, as it is very bitter… but the bitterness goes when it is prepared into a jelly.

I joke that Guelder rose jelly makes the kitchen stink of old socks during preparation, but that rather off putting image is completely negated once you slather it all over some lovely hot buttered toast, or use it with game and other cooked meats.

So give this Guelder rose jelly recipe a try… I really don’t think you will be disappointed!

Guelder Rose Jelly Recipe : Ingredients

  • 800g Guelder rose fruits (make sure you pick them soft)
  • 2 peeled oranges (chopped)
  • 12 crab apples (chopped)
  • 500ml of cold water
  • Sugar

Guelder Rose Jelly Recipe : Instructions

  1. Put the Guelder rose fruits, oranges, crab apples and water into a heavy bottomed pan and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes, using a potato masher to occasionally mash the mixture.
  2. Strain over night or for 12 hours by pouring the mixture through a muslin cloth or jelly bag. Do not squeeze the pulp as this will result in a cloudy jelly.
  3. Next measure out the liquid, and for every 500ml, add 500g of sugar. You can use white or brown sugar. For this recipe I used brown granulated sugar.
  4. Heat the sugar mixture stirring continuously until the sugar has melted, and allow it to come to a gentle simmer.
  5. Simmer for between 15-20 minutes, or until the liquid has reached setting point. Setting point is when you can put a little bit of the juice on a plate. Now push your finger through the juice. If the juice doesn’t automatically fall back into itself, and stays at the point you pushed it to, then it’s ready. IMPORTANT: Make sure you don’t over simmer the juice as you might end up with toffee!
  6. Wash your jars and lids with hot soapy water, then sterlise them by placing wet into a 120C oven until they are dry.
  7. Take out of the over, allow to cool for about 5 minutes, then pour the hot Guelder rose liquid into the jars, allow to cool down then screw on the lids.

Further Reading


  1. I am going to give the guelder rose jelly recipe a try. is there any chance I can confuse these berries with anything similar when picking? Thank you for your inspiring recipes. I use your eldeberry syrup recipe every year to help my family defend themselves against flu and colds. Last year I made a hedgerow jelly and included blackberries, elderberries, and hawthorn. I have also made rosehip and crab apple jelly, just by using your recipes and adapting them with different fruits.

    • Sandra : You must always be 150% certain that you have the correct plant before putting it anywhere near your mouth. I don’t know your skill level at ID so can’t say other than there are berries you could confuse it with. But stick with the rule of 150% certain and you won’t go wrong. As I say on my foraging courses… “If you think it is, then you don’t know”.

  2. YEAH, that sounds truly awesome, and thank you for sharing your lovely recipes.
    Just one teeny weeny hint, when sterilising the jars! Always rinse off the soapy water before sterilising in the oven. Otherwise you will contaminate the jelly with detergent. not a good chemical to have in your body.

  3. I have always wanted to use these berries but wasn’t sure of their toxicity. Having made haw jam and mountain ash jam….guelder rose jam should be a good alternative with game!

  4. Great to have this recipe! I made some guelder rose jelly last weekend, same recipe, but mixed with rose hips (from rosa rugosa), raspberries, the few haws left in the garden. . . And, I used pectin. A few crab apples might have done the trick.

  5. Hi Robin,
    Delighted to read your piece about the Guelder Rose Jelly as I have a Guelder Rose in a pot at home. When I left Organic College last May (2015) I carted home about ten indigenous Irish Trees which are in various stages of development.The Berries on my Guelder Rose on the patio were plentiful this year but were consumed rather quickly by my resident Bird population so next year will be the real test.
    Thank you again for a really informative newsletter.

  6. Love reading these recipes, you get quite excited 😉 great job as usual. Sorry I didn’t get to see this year, daughters wedding is now done, so hope to see you next year. All the best.

  7. Thank you Robin. The recipe looks immensely inviting as I despair at the sight of my twenty something year old Guelder rose tree; once magnificent and full of fruit at ten to twelve foot high and now reduced to one basal shoot at two foot high. Hewn down by an over enthusiastic, employed by my wife, numpty ( reigning it in here ) who thought it might be a weed.
    I used to watch all species of bird as they gorged themselves on the fruit during the early winter months and me thinking ( erroneously) those beries look good enough to eat.
    Now you come along and pronounce my belief in those beautiful ruby gems of wonder.
    All I have to do now is practise patience, sack the “gardener” and divorce the wife and await a bountiful and not interfered with GuelderRose produce.
    Oh ok, maybe gone overboard a tad…………. I’ll keep the gardener. 🙂

    • The Food & Agricultural Organisation of The United Nations state “About 30% of the vitamin C present in fresh fruit is destroyed during the jam-making process, but that which remains in the finished product is stable during storage.” Source

      And Guelder Rose has massive amounts of Vitamin C, with vitamin C being water soluble. So in a jelly the vitamin C is not lost, just reduced. There is no need to add extra vitamin C.

  8. Can I just ask – you say simmer 15-20 . Traditionally I’ve always boiled the juice/sugar mixture hard for 5-10 to heat it to the correct temperature and to evaporate enough water to enable the jam/jelly to reach setting point. You really do mean simmer?

  9. Hi Robin, I love the idea of trying guelder rose jelly. Are the oranges and apples essential to the process, or can I just use the berries? So true what you say about taste varying with place – I’m in the middle of a crab apple jelly experiment and there are so many different colours and aromas…

    • Carly – Yes I’m sure that it will work without oranges or apples, although I use crab apples for their pectin content. So you might want to consider that, either adding additional pectin or more sugar or simply simmering longer to reduce the mixture until it reaches setting point.

  10. I have just used my ‘Picture this” phone app to identify this plant. Harvested from a couple of trees on the football field and home to my own garden to pick some crab apples. First stage complete and now straining. Looking forward to finishing this off.

  11. This sounds delicious and the berries are so beautiful. Does one “scrump” guilder rose berries? I saw a tree down by our medical centre in the village – could not see any down by our stream – and maybe I shall sneak down when all the staff have gone and forage… I have a mass of fallen crab apples right now And a couple of oranges so could go for it. Re apples, do you know if one can extract the pectin from them for use later?

  12. This is great, Thankyou so much for sharing. I have struggled to find a recipe with guelder rose. I have gathered my ingredients ready to make. I only have 7 apples picked from friends allotment, not sure of they are crab apples. Is it ok to sub these for the recipe? Also how much of a water discount should I do (using less apples). Thanks again for sharing this interesting recipe, can’t wait to try it ?

  13. Thanks for the recipe Robin. We have just made 10 jars of it. It set perfectly and the taste is good, but even the finished jelly has the over powering smell of cheesy feet! Our lodger was actually woken in the night by the lingering smell when we made it! I think we might put “Smelly Jelly” on the labels. Remarkable stuff! Perhaps ideal as Christmas presents for the odd unsuspecting relative?

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