If you harvested your rose petals for rose drinks carefully this summer, there should be some rosehips ready for harvest right now. (Recipes for rose petals = Drink your Roses – here.) This is especially true for those readers at higher elevations in the Southwest or elsewhere in the USA. (Welcome new readers in Michigan and Colorado. Thanks for signing up!
The wild Western rose, also called Wood’s rose (Rosa woodsii) is found throughout the Southwest and has lovely rosehips to forage. Wild rugosa rose (Rosa rugosa) is found elsewhere in North America and has long been a source of rosehips for Natives and pioneers alike.
Word Nerd note – Authors Jack London and Will Hobbs write of prospectors avoiding scurvy during the Yukon Gold Rush by drinking rosehip tea all winter. Science Nerd notes that, yes rosehips are rich in vitamin C, although some is lost in drying.
How to Use Rosehips
Rosehips are delightfully versatile and can be used to make a savory sauce, sweet syrup, yummy jelly, refreshing tea, tart and creamy soup, alcoholic beverages, or dried and crushed for a seasoning, much like dried pomegranate used in Indian cooking.
Roses are in the same family as apples. Like apples, rosehips are not necessarily sweet. Indeed, some are quite tart, and thus worth a nibble before you decide how you will use them. Unlike apples, rosehips have many seeds inside. Unfortunately, those seeds are covered in tiny hairs which can be bothersome to humans. It depends on how you use your rosehips. If extracting the juice for syrup, sauce, or jelly, ignore the hairs.
Rose hips are easily preserved with drying. Drying is the easiest way to preserve them for making tea. No need to remove seed, just rinse and spread thin for drying. If you can set your oven to 110 or have a dehydrator, dry them for 4 to 6 hours, turning once mid-dry. They should be stiff and dry to the touch. Depending on the plant and the conditions and the size of the hips, this can be as long as 12 hours.
In the Southwest this summer you may be able to dry your rosehips on a screen in the garage or inside a shaded automobile. To preserve the vitamins, do not dry rosehips in the sunshine.
If you wish to dry rose hips and use them for seasoning, they do add a mildly tart flavor (think caper-like) and mighty fine taste in with rice or quinoa. But to dry them for seasoning, you will have to remove the seeds and dice the hips fine.
Making Rosehip Juice
Here’s the easy way to save your rose hips, with many liquid uses such as jelly, sauce – sweet or savory, mixed with vodka as a lemony-tart rosehip vodka, or even thickened with arrowroot starch to form a savory soup to start a meal (add a dollop of sour cream), or as a refreshing, cranberry-like juice for drinking
Collect your rose hips.
Rinse them with fresh water to remove debris.
Remove the blossom end and stems. You can do this with fingernails or a little paring knife used for hulling strawberries.
Leave the rosehips whole or cut in half and place, seeds and all in a sauce pan.
Barely cover with water.
Bring slowly to a gentle boil and allow to simmer for 3 to 5 minutes. More than that and you are destroying vitamins.
Mash with a potato masher to extract more savory goodness.
Save the liquid by pouring through a strainer, or through a colander lined with a bandanna.
Feed the leftover plant bits to your compost heap or to chickens, cows, goats, or hogs, they love it. My vet says do NOT feed it to horses, the seeds are bad for them. Forgot to ask him about sheep and rabbits.
Rosehip Juice Storage
Rosehip juice stores for about a week in the ‘fridge, or freeze for later. I mean, who wants to make jelly when it’s 110 out?!
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More cooking and using Southwestern products in Father Kino’s Herbs: Growing and Using Them Today (Tierra del Sol Institute Press). This link is to Amazon and if you buy the book there the Horticulture Therapy non-profit Tierra del Sol Institute will get a few pennies at no additional cost to you.
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