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Rose hips Rosa Canina

28th October 2016

Hip hip hooray, it's #ForagingFriday! Sorry I couldn't resist that one! ;)

Necessity in the form of an unwelcome 'bug' forced me to collect Rose Hips this week, since all of our convenient vitamin C capsules had been used up on Ryan whilst he tried his best to fend off a cold that had already spread around his work place and I foolishly had let our stores of remedies run low! He had succumbed to it for a few days but was on the mend when the dreaded rawness crept into my own throat pressing me into action...

Rose 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, carotenoids, lycopene, and polyphenols linked to preventing cardiovascular disease - many great reasons to go and pick a big bag full!

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! ;)


Rose Hips are easily spotted in Autumn, their elongated red-orange berries brightening thinning hedgerows throughout the countryside and parks, perhaps even in your own garden. Be careful when gathering of the nearby usage of pesticides, especially from parks and gardens. Where there is a hip, there was once a delicate flower only open for a couple of days 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. Of course 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, and the one I opted for myself, is to make a simple 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 them.

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 small covered saucepan. Either way I find the tea benefits from a spoonful of honey, and especially so if suffering from a sore throat.

In much the same way as Elderberries, Rose hips can be made into a soothing and medicinal syrup, and they too make for a delicious jam or jelly. In fact you can do so by following the same recipes with hips in place, though be sure to strain the liquid well prior to adding sugar so as to keep out the irritating hairs contained with the seeds. 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.

According to generations past, the dried seeds and hairs make a particularly annoying itching powder sprinkled down the back of clothes, though I've not known anyone willing to go to such efforts for a prank these days. The knowledge at least ensures that you're aware of just how irritating those seed hairs are so as to be cautious!


Unlike the powerful flavour of Elder which can be something of an acquired taste, and 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 and the syrup goes well over pancakes and with other berries and cream.

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 pulp against the skin, then drying in either a dehydrator, a low oven, or even loosely scattered in a paper bag in the airing cupboard or somewhere similar. Make sure that the hips are thoroughly dry before storing as any remaining moisture will cause them to grow mould.

I'm sure they would also go well in a 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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