As cold weather creeps back into Oregon, the settling temperatures help develop the fruit of roses in our own backyards. This fruit is a sweet treat called rose hips. Rose hips have had a place on the dinner table for generations.
The best part of having rose hips in kitchen is the generous dose of vitamin C. Even today, pharmacies sell vitamin C tablets that boast of their rose hip content. Rose hips have more than ascorbic acid to offer. Rose hips are also high in iron. The key to processing iron in the body is to couple it with vitamin C. For people that battle anemia, rose hips are a treasure trove of nutrition.
Rose hips are easy to harvest. Wait until the hips turn a deep red and twist them between your finger and thumb until the fruit comes off easily in your hand. Then simply clean and air dry the fruit and it is ready to nibble. Only gather rose hips that have not been sprayed with chemicals or are growing near toxic areas like roads.The best tasting rose hips come from Apothecary Rose, Dog Rose, Damask Rose and Rugosa Rose. Wild roses are delightful treat to roll between your teeth while hiking. Briar Rose has an extra advantage as the leaves have a tangy apple scent that has been enjoyed by the English as a tea in years past.
Large rose hips can be collected by snipping the ripened fruit from the stalk. Wash the fruit gently. Cut the rose hip in half and scoop out the fuzzy seeds. Dry the rose hips on a cookie sheet in the oven, food dryer or toaster oven (set to 200 degrees) until their texture is leathery. Check the rose hips regularly so they don’t burn.
Try drying rose hips on a string. Using a sewing needle and thread, pierce each hip through the center of the fruit like beads. Be certain to provide a little space between the fruit to prevent spoilage and hang the string somewhere away from sunlight and moisture. In a few days, the rose hips are dry and ready to enjoy as tea. For best results, allow the hips to steep in hot water for several minutes until the tea turns a deep, delicous red. Then sit back and enjoy the fruits of your harvest.
Storing Rose Hips
Store rose hips in a tightly sealed and labeled container away from light for up to one year.