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Rose hips (Dog Rose)

Rosa Canina 

rose hips - foraging recipesRose hips are one of the richest plant sources of vitamin C, more so than oranges, along with immune boosting vitamin A. Their bright colour lets on that they contain plenty of antioxidants, along with carotenoids, lycopene, and polyphenols linked to preventing cardiovascular disease. They also boast effectiveness at improving the symptoms of arthritis and so are recommended as an excellent partner to joint supplements like Glucosamine, something I've reaped the benefits of and swear by for my, nowadays, healthy joints. You can buy Rose Hip supplements in tablet form for convenience but as we know natural is best, and more importantly free - so many great reasons to go out and pick a big bag full of them!

 

Rose Hips are easily spotted in Autumn, the long red-orange berries brightening the landscape of thinning hedgerows, perhaps even in your own garden. Be careful when gathering of the nearby usage of pesticides, especially from parks and gardens.

Pink Dog Rose flower - foraging recipesWhere there is a hip, there was once a delicate flower open for only a day or so but the old flower must be left in place to develop into a hip so, if growing yourself, you will have to choose between snipping them for more flowers or leaving for hips later on.

You can use the hips from any species of rose though I've read that while each may be safely edible, edible does not necessarily mean tasty so perhaps stick to the wild or 'Dog' rose varieties! Just as some species smell better than others, some apparently taste better too.

White Dog Rose flowers - foraging

Be sure that you are in fact gathering from a true rose bush and not a red berried namesake since some plants are named as such for their general resemblance yet are not related. That being said I can't think of any other plant, poisonous or otherwise, that produces the same oval berries.

 

The simplest way to release the vitamin content for consumption is to make them into tea. As with many of the tougher skinned fruits in the hedgerows at this time of year, they benefit from a spell in the freezer which helps to break down the cell walls of the fruit releasing more juice and flavour. We've had a few frosts around this area already this year but they've not been hard enough to soften the fruits by much as yet, if you are picking fruits that have seen a strong freezing make sure to process them quickly as they will quickly turn mouldy due to the damage freezing causes to the cell walls.

Freezer softened fruits make tea well enough as they are, with boiling water poured over a small handful in a mug and left to steep for up to 10 mins (preferably covered to keep the steam and vitamins in). Give the hips a light squish with a spoon before fishing them out, taking care not to split them open to release the irritating hairs into your drink.

For tougher fruits you'll need to actively simmer them for the 10 mins in a saucepan. Either way I find the tea benefits from a spoonful of honey, and especially so if suffering from a sore throat.

Rose hips can be made into a soothing and medicinal syrup and make for a delicious jam or jelly. See our Elderberry syrup recipe, and our standard jam recipe here, they are in fact related to apples so shouldn't require added pectin in the recipe. Be sure to strain the liquid well prior to adding sugar so as to keep out the irritating hairs contained with the seeds.Unlike the powerful flavour of Elder which can be an acquired taste, to me only worth bearing for the sake of beating a case of flu, Rose hips have a very pleasant flavour. In the past I've transformed the jelly into unusual jam tarts either by themselves or combined with other autumn fruits and the syrup is delicious drizzled over pancakes.rose hip tea - high in vitamin C!

If you intend to preserve your rose hips for the purpose of tea at a later date the best method is to dry them. This is best done by splitting open and scraping away the seeds and hairs as best you can but leaving the flesh against the skin, then drying in either a dehydrator, a low temperature oven, or loosely scattered in a paper bag in the airing cupboard or somewhere with good air flow. Make sure that the hips are completely dry before storing as any remaining moisture will allow mould to grow.

I'm sure they would also go well in a dried fruit leather recipe but I've not tried it myself as yet, if you do don't forget to come back and tell us how it went! 

 

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Sarah is an artist and writer with a lifetime interest in camping and survival techniques.

Living the #vanlife since before it was a hashtag and touring on two wheels with her husband Ryan, they have a wealth of camping and motorcycling knowledge to share, and know a thing or two about packing light! read more


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