WHAT ARE ROSE HIPS?
Rose hips are the nutrient-rich fruit of the rose plant. They have been gathered after the first light frost, their seeds removed, and used for centuries in health-supporting syrups, jams, jellies, teas, powders and more.
Rose hips taste slightly sour and tangy with a cooling effect. They are red to orange, and oblong or round in shape, depending on which type of rose bush they grow on. They often have small wisps of “hair” protruding from the bottom. The ones pictured above are Rosa rugosa or beach roses.
The benefits of rose hips
Rose hips, when prepared properly, are not only tasty but also a good source of vitamin C during the winter months. In fact, they contain nearly 2000 milligrams of vitamin C per 100 grams of fruit.
Rose hip seed oil is commonly used in skincare products because it’s an emollient and has restorative properties. In a 2015 study, patients at a Spanish hospital were treated with rose hip seed oil after surgery. Those who received the rose hip seed oil experienced less scarring and redness than those who did not receive treatment with the rose hip seed oil. Rose hip serums may help reduce the appearance of acne scars too.
Rose hips may also be good for your heart! A 2011 clinical study showed that consuming 40 grams of rose hip powder daily for 6 weeks can reduce cardiovascular risk factors such as systolic blood pressure and plasma cholesterol levels.
Some herbalists recommend consuming rose hip powder to relieve joint pain, which has a long history of use as an anti-inflammatory agent. A 2005 trial found that participants who consumed 5g of rose hip powder experienced significant relief from arthritic pain after 3 weeks.
Foraging and Harvesting Rose Hips
Rose hips can be found in many locations and from any variety of rose bush. Forage for them in the woods, inland along roadsides and near waterways, as well as coastlines. Not all rose varieties produce large, usable hips, however, both the Rosa rugosa varieties and the wild Dog Rose (Rosa canina) are blessed with large, delicious hips. Here in the Northeast, these are my favorites because the hips are big and hearty!
Harvest rose hips using garden scissors or shears, and clip the rose hip as closely as possible to the base of the bulb-shaped hip. We must share the bounty with the other creatures around us, so even though some rose species are invasive, we should endeavor to leave some for the birds to eat, especially when food is scarce in winter.
Buying Rose Hips
Uses for rose hips: 4 Recipes
Rose hips are a lovely way to connect with autumn’s bounty and support your health. There are just so many uses for rose hips, but these are the recipes I turn to most often when my basket overflows with rose hips each fall.
Rose hip tea
I love herbal teas, and this is one of my favorite uses for rose hips!
To prepare your rose hips for tea, you need to remove any stems, leaves, and brown flower bits (called the calyx) from the hips. Then place them in a sieve and run them under cool water to rinse them well. Next, place your rinsed rose hips in a food processor and pulse several times to break the rose hips into smaller pieces.
Put your processed rose hips in a pot of water. For one cup of rose hips, use two cups of water – or a 2:1 ratio of water to rose hips. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the water has reduced by about half.
Next, you’ll want to turn off the heat and allow the tea to cool, and the rose hips to steep. This will also allow the medicinal constituents more time to be extracted.
When your mixture has cooled, you’ll then want to strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer or a few layers of cheesecloth to remove any of the fine hairs that are inside the rose hips. These hairs can be irritating if consumed, so we always want to strain carefully.
You can squeeze the rose hips to get all the liquid out if need be. It may be necessary to restrain your liquid if you see any of the fine hairs floating in it. Restraining through a few layers of cheesecloth ought to do the trick.
Rose hip syrup
Another of my favorite uses for rose hips is in this delightful syrup.
To make the syrup, you’ll want to add equal parts of your strained rose hip tea to some local organic honey. So if you have one cup of rose hip tea, then add one cup of honey.
I always try to use local organic honey whenever possible because local honey has unique flavors that are lost when industrialized. Local honey can also help with allergies, as this will ensure that the honey has the allergens native to the area you live in. Buying local is better, and not just because it reduces pollution and saves resources.
Stir up your equal parts tea and honey. That’s all there is to it! You’ve made Rose Hip Syrup!
Store it in the refrigerator for up to 6 months, or freeze it for later use. Rose hips contain natural pectin, so your syrup might thicken over time to become more jelly like. That’s perfectly normal.
For use medicinally and for a high dose of vitamin C, take a spoonful daily. As a culinary delight, drizzle some on ice cream or add a spoonful to a cup of tea for some delicious flavor.
Rose Hip Elixir
- Herbal elixirs are similar to tinctures, except they also include honey or maple syrup, and are one of my very favorite preparations for general use. I love that the preparation of elixirs don’t require exact scientific measurements and is more of a culinary adventure than a precise formulation.
The sweet taste of an elixir is generally so pleasing that most people do not mind drinking it. For this reason, it helps kids and other resistant individuals take their herbal remedies without complaint.
This is one of my favorite uses for rose hips and is the one I reach for whenever I feel a cough or cold coming on.
- Fresh rose hips, deseeded and cleaned
- A pint-sized glass canning jar with lid
Chop the rose hips as small as you can, then add them to a glass, pint-sized canning jar. (If you don’t have fresh rose hips available, then you can use dry, store-bought rose hips instead.)
If using dried plant material, fill a jar about a third of the way with plant matter. For fresh plants, add enough coarsely chopped material to fill your jar.
Fill the jar about a third of the way with honey.
Stir well so that plants are well coated with honey.
Fill the rest of the jar with alcohol. Stir well.
Taste and adjust the proportions of honey and alcohol as desired. The mixture will taste sweeter in a couple of weeks, so keep that in mind when making adjustments.
Cover with airtight lid.
Label your jar with the ingredients and date,
Place the jar in a cool, dark place to steep for about 4 weeks. Give the jar a shake every few days to keep the plant matter submerged.
Strain the plant matter through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth. Reserve the liquid. Elixirs should be stored in tightly closed, light resistant containers away from direct heat and sunlight. I like amber glass bottles (like these).
Elixirs can remain shelf-stable for 1-2 years. Enjoy!
To use: Take 1-2 droppers full at the first sign of a cold or flu or anytime you need a bit of additional immune support.
ALL-NATURAL HOMEMADE ROSEHIP OIL MOISTURIZER
- 1 Tablespoon beeswax
- 1 Tablespoon shea butter
- 1/4 cup sweet almond oil
- 10 drops vitamin E oil
- 2 Tablespoon rose hip oil
- 7 drops frankincense essential oil
- Mix the beeswax, shea butter, and sweet almond oil in a double boiler. A heat-safe bowl placed on top of a half-filled pot of hot water will also work. Just be sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Keep your stove top at medium to high heat.
- Stir continually until the beeswax has melted and combines completely with the shea butter and sweet almond oil. Remove the glass bowl from the pot of hot water.
- Set aside and allow to cool for a few minutes.
- Stir in rose hip seed oil, vitamin E oil, and frankincense essential oil.
- Place mixture into the fridge for 20-30 minutes. Just enough that the mixture starts to thicken, but not completely solid all the way through.
- Using an electric whisk, whisk the mixture until the consistency is creamy and smooth.
- Store your moisturizer in a glass jar in your fridge.
- Apply on a clean face before bed and after showering in the morning.
As you can see, there are so many uses for rose hips! They are an excellent addition to any wildcrafting or seasonal herb basket. The sweet and tangy flavor blends well with other herbs, and you can’t go wrong with a healthy dose of vitamin C.
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