If you have roses in a sunny spot in your yard, even the rather invasive Rosa multiflora, you surely have rose hip on them this time of year. When they have reached their mature color, and possibly right after the first frost of the year is the right time to harvest them, if you haven’t deadheaded your roses.
Good medicine, good food
A rose hip forms below the flower and ripens to a shiny, hard, round or elongated red or orange seed container, with the remains of the flower persisting on the end opposite the stem. Hips can be very different in size, anything from 1/4 inch or less across to about an inch across.
Rose hips are full of seeds and pulp, the latter being used for food and medicine. They contain twenty times as much vitamin C as an orange of the same volume! With the season for colds, coughs and the flu coming up, the rose hips from your yard can help keep your immune system strong, probably better than the sugary gummies from the drug store that promise to do the same.
Besides, rose hip has been used to treat digestive disorders. When I was a child, Mother made us rose hip tea when we had stomach issues.
Here’s how you harvest and process rose hip:
Gathering rose hips for food
Rose hips are ready to pick as soon as they have their mature color. They become sweeter when light frosts convert some of the starches to sugar, but don’t let them freeze solid and then thaw and soften as it will make them bitter. Avoid rose hips that grow next to busy streets or that have been sprayed with chemicals.
Processing rose hips
You can stew, dry or freeze rose hips:
As soon as possible after picking them, wash the hips and cut off the stems and blossoms. The precious vitamin C will get lost if you don’t process the while they are fresh.
Then either cook them, covered, in a nonreactive (that is, not aluminum) pot over low heat, or freeze fresh hips in plastic bags after washing them and cutting off the ends.
To extract the juice of rose hips for use in jams and jellies, simmer the washed and cleaned hips in water to cover for 15 minutes. Steep, covered, for 24 hours, then strain and use the strained juice immediately or freeze it for as long as a year.
To dry rose hips, wash and clean large hips, cut them in half, remove the seeds and spread the not seedless hips on trays. Dry in an oven or dehydrator set at 110°F until the hips are hard and brittle. Small hips can be dried whole or sliced but without removing the seeds.
When ready to use, cover hips with water and simmer until soft, then strain out any seeds and use the pulp to make jam or jelly.
Here is a list of rose hip recipes from Mother Earth Living, where we found the above information online, which was adapted from Carla Emery’s The Encyclopedia of Country Living, which is a great resource for any number of things.