Rose hips are the fruit of the rose or the ovary that contains seeds. They are found right behind the flower and swell after the flower blooms and dies. Roses are in the apple family and the hips look similar to small apples. Hips give interest to a winter garden, feed wildlife in the area during the winter, make a great herbal tea full of vitamin C and are used in recipes, enhance dishes and make jams and sauces.
Rose hips are green spherical orbs until they mature to red, yellow, orange or purple. Inside the orb, small seeds are encased in silvery hairs. The hip not only looks like an apple, but has a similar flavor.
Rose hips were a remedy for chest problems during the Middle Ages and Native Americans included them in soups and stews. Rose hips became part of the war effort during World War II. Citrus imports to England nearly ceased during that time and the government was worried about the population's intake of vitamin C. Volunteers went out to the countryside to collect rose hips from hedgerows as they provided a good source of that vitamin. The hips were made into syrup, which was distributed by the government.
All roses produce hips but some are more reliable for cooking and medicinal uses than others. The most popular hips come from wild or old single flowered roses that produce one flush of flowers in the summer. Hips from modern varieties such as Rosa rugosa, Rosa rubriflora and Rosa gallica produce multiple blossoms and hips; hybrids only produce a few.
Rose hips provide vitamin C to the body, but they also reduce excess water in the body. Rose hip tea stops insatiable thirst and eases an inflamed gastric system. Rose hips are sweet and spicy, featuring the flavor of cranberries or apples. Jams, syrups and sauces benefit from the flavor of rose hips and it is possible to make a rose hip wine.
Rose hips turn from green to their bright colors after the first frost. Pick from September to October when they are still smooth and plump, not wrinkled and soft.
Preparation and Storage
Rose hips dry well for future use. Never use metal pans or spoons when working with rose hips because the color and flavor suffers and the chemical reaction affects their vitamin C content. Wash collected rose hips in water, drain, pat dry and spread on a baking sheet covered with wax paper. It takes a few weeks for them to dry, and as they do, they darken and shrivel. Some recipes require the removal of seeds. Cut the hip in half with scissors, remove the seeds, rinse and commence with the drying procedure. Store dried hips in airtight glass jars.
Do not use hips from roses treated with pesticides. Deadheading spent blooms will prevent hips from forming.
- University of Vermont Extension; Rose Hips; Dr. Leonard Perry
- Iowa State University Extension; Roses Have Hips Too; Cindy Haynes; 2/3/2010
- Drugs.com: Rose Hips
- Spring Valley Roses: Eat Your Roses
- Backwood Homes Magazine; Gather Rose Hips for Health; Gail Butler
- NCNC District of the American Rose Society: Hips, Haws and Vitamin C
- Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images
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