Every summer in Southern California, the roses give way to buds, and the green rose hips start to appear. By late September, they are bright red, tiny little things, beckoning the eye when everything around is a blaze of yellow and orange. Everywhere else in the country, rose hips are a few of the only wild things remaining long into the winter. Here, spring has already started, and the roses are already pushing their way up, getting ready to flower again. Luckily, in almost every garden I see, there are still rosehips. And even more luckily, I dried a whole bunch last year. Why lucky? Well you see, my friend Butter and I are going to start a monthly wild food thingy. We’ll discuss a different plant each month, and come up with some different recipes for it. You can try it too– and if you write about it we’ll link to you when we put all of the recipes in one place. And, if you haven’t guessed by now, February is going to be the rose hip.
The rosehip is one of the strongest sources of vitamin C in the world. So much so that they have been used medicinally for centuries. They’re also rich in vitamins E, K, B (1, 2, and 3). According to herbalist Kiva Rose, there’s not much point in you drinking fancy foreign rooibos or green tea for the anti-oxidants; rosehips have even more than both of those plants, AND they probably grow somewhere near your back yard!
The most common preparation for the rose hip is a simple rose hip syrup– prepared with sugar. It’s been used for centuries for people who are coming down with the flu, because of it’s high vitamin and mineral content. It’s that high nutritive content that makes it so useful in other situations, for example in exhaustion, malnutrition, and general deficiency. In situations like that however, I’d be much more likely to use it in elixir or infusion form than sugar syrup.
Rosehips have a tart, slightly fragrant taste, though most species are usually quite delicate tasting too.
Here is a recipe for a rosehip simple syrup:
1 cup rose hips (either dry or fresh)
2 cup water
1 cup sugar
Bring the rose hips and water to a boil, and simmer for 20 minutes or so. Remove from the heat, and mash up the rose hips, to get as much of the goodness out into the water as possible. Add the sugar, and bring to the boil again, simmer, and make sure all the sugar is dissolved, then strain through a sieve and bottle.
It should keep in the fridge for up to a year.