Wild rose hips are a very rich source of Vitamin C and are free for the picking. Three average hips have as much Vitamin C as a medium-sized orange.
Harvesting: Pick only the ripe berries that are vivid red and slightly soft. They have a much better flavor if picked after the first frost…preferably late August, September or October. You can harvest them from your garden, but they’re more plentiful from old-time shrub varieties such as rugosas and wild rose bushes.
What Are They? They are the fruit of the rose plant and are filled with tiny seeds and covered with silky hairs. The food value is found in their skin and their taste is similar to that of an apple.
To encourage your roses to develop them, don’t trim the blossoms and leave them to naturally fade and fall.
Uses: They can be used fresh in making jelly, jam, pickles, juice, etc., or they can be dried or canned to be used in the winter, or served raw, shredded or halved in salads, sandwich fillings and desserts. When dried they are also a favorite in teas and homemade potpourri.
- Important: Before using as a food source, make sure the plant you’re harvesting from has not been treated with pesticides or chemicals.
How To Dry Them
Collect quantities to be dried or made into teas, jellies, juice, pickles, etc., for winter use.
The process is very easy and similar to air drying flowers, follow these directions:
- Sort out the imperfect ones and rinse the batch. Carefully pat dry.
- Line a cookie sheet with a screen, or a sheet of cardboard, or parchment or wax paper and spread them across in a single layer.
- Leave in a dark, well ventilated area for a few weeks, they’ll be ready when they are hard, wrinkly and darker in color.
- You can also do this in the oven on the lowest setting or use a dehydrator.
You can dry them whole or you can cut and seed first (directions below). If mainly using for teas, leaving whole is fine.
Tips: To remove the hairs from them once they’ve dried, grind them up a bit in the food processor then shake the batch in a sieve, the hairs will fall loose. After they have dried, stems and ends can be removed easily by plucking them off.
Storage: Seal in airtight containers or glass jars, store away from direct light.
There is some loss of Vitamin C if there is a lengthy delay between picking and bottling the product although one of their important advantages as a source of Vitamin C is the unusual stability of this Vitamin as compared with other Vitamin C foods.
- Tip: Avoid using aluminum cookware and utensils when preparing them as it can deteriorate their Vitamin C content.
How To Make Tea:
- When Using Fresh: 1 to 2 TBS per cup of boiling water, steep for 10 minutes.
- When Using Dried: 2 tsp per cup of boiling water, steep for 10 to 15 minutes.
Tip: Don’t throw them out once they’ve been used to make tea, eat them after you’re done drinking the tea or add to soups or serve as a side at the supper table. They still have a lot of nutritional value even after they’ve been used in teas.
Wild Roseberry Jam: Gather the berries after the first frost. Remove seeds and hull. Wash. Add water just barely to cover the berries. Cook berries until soft. If mixture is too thick add water as needed. Set aside to cool. Mash and put through sieve. To 2 cups puree add 1 cup sugar and cook slowly until thick, stirring frequently. A better consistency is obtained if commercial pectin is used. Pour into sterilized jars and seal.
The jam may be used on bread and as a filling for cakes.
Note: If desired, lemon juice may be added and used either as jam or meat sauce.
4 quarts ripe berries (red and ripe)
1 clove garlic
2 medium sized onions
1 cup water (or more if necessary)
Boil these ingredients until they are soft. Strain them. Add 3/4 cup of brown sugar. Tie in a bag and add:
1/2 TBS whole allspice
1/2 TBS mace
1/2 TBS whole cloves
1/2 TBS celery seed
2 inch stick cinnamon
Boil these ingredients quickly. Add 1 cup vinegar, cayenne, salt, if desired. Boil catsup 10 minutes longer. Bottle it at once. Seal the bottles with wax. The flavor of this catsup is excellent.
Roseberry & Crabapple Jelly: Use 1/2 crabapple juice and 1/2 rose hip puree. To one cup of this mixture use 3/4 cup sugar. This jelly retains its Vitamin C content for as long as nine months without loss.
Note: The puree may be combined in jelly or jam with fruit such as cranberry, grape, chokecherry, red currant, wild plum, etc. Combine one part rose hip to two parts fruit or one to three if taste of rose hip is not desired. A little acid such as lemon juice adds to the flavor as does honey used for part or all of sugar.
Most products will be softer at first but will stiffen on standing. Do not place in sun to stiffen as this destroys Vitamin C.
How To Remove Hairs & Seeds
It is desirable that the hairs and seeds be removed before consuming. The fine hairs associated with the seeds are unpleasant in the mouth and have an irritating action. A few different methods are used, try one of the following:
- Cut in half and shake out seeds, this takes the longest time;
- Cover with water and simmer, then rub through a sieve using the puree;
- Simmer whole Rose Hips in more than enough water to cover, then merely strain. Bottle the juice. Add sugar if desired and process 45 mins. This juice contains Vitamin C and may be added to sauces, soups (not cream soup), puddings, beverages and many other foods.
Did You Know: Women and children were encouraged to gather them during World War II when food supplies were low, the Vitamin C they provided were a much needed source of nutrition and was highly valued over the winter months.
Source: Much of the information was found in Home Canning Guide, Dominion Glass Co. Limited (vintage booklet)