Rose Hip Recipes and More

Learn to process, prepare and dry rose hips.

| February/March 2000

A rose hip forms below the flower and ripens to a shiny, hard, round or elongated red or orange seed container. The remains of the flower persist on the end opposite the stem. Hips range in size from 1/4 inch or less across to about an inch across in the Japanese rose (Rosa rugosa) and the sweetbriar (R. rubiginosa). (Rosebushes that are deadheaded never develop hips, of course.) Hips are full of seeds, but the larger ones also contain pulp, which is the part used for food and medicine.

Rose hips are a superb source of vitamin C; they contain twenty times as much vitamin C as an orange of the same volume. Besides being used to prevent or treat scurvy, hips have been used to treat coughs, colds, and digestive disorders. In China, the hips of the Cherokee rose (R. laevigata), an Asiatic species naturalized in the southeastern United States, are used as a kidney tonic and to treat urinary dysfunction. With licorice, yam, and other herbs, they are also prescribed for chronic diarrhea with stomach weakness.

Gathering hips for food

Roses grow wild in every state except Hawaii as well as in gardens. The hips are ready to pick as soon as they have attained their mature color. They become sweeter when light frosts convert some of the starches to sugar but can taste unpleasant if allowed to freeze solid and then thaw and soften. Avoid rose hips that may have been sprayed or contaminated by toxins from automobile exhaust. If you are not certain that the bushes are free of harmful chemicals, buy dried hips from a health food store instead of picking your own.

Processing rose hips

To preserve their vitamin C content, keep rose hips cool after picking and process them as soon as possible, either by stewing, drying, or freezing.

Wash the hips and cut off the stems and blossoms. Cook them, covered, in a nonreactive pot over low heat. Aluminum pots and utensils can react with the acid in the hips, resulting in a metallic taste.

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