I’m not sure if the rose hips are particularly lovely this year, or if it’s just that we now live in an area so full of wild roses that I’m spoiled for choice, but I seem to find myself exclaiming over their beauty every time I leave the house.
Rose hips are sweetest after the first frost but I usually pick some as soon as they are bright red, with no orangey colour left, and continue picking in small batches until they are finished.
I don’t do a huge amount with rose hips I must say. I’ve added them to my hawthorn vinegar and a tincture and made a couple of batches of syrup so far and I love to add a few to decoctions and nettle nourishing infusions. A nourishing infusion is like a really strong tea of a particularly nourishing herb which is full of vitamins and minerals. The inimitable Susan Weed has written a lot about them and you can see how she does it over at her website here. I just add a few rose hips to the nettle at this time of year as the high vitamin C content helps with absorption of the iron that nettle is so rich in.
I don’t tend to make jellies and such, just because the high sugar levels don’t particularly agree with me, but I make my rosehip syrup with raw honey using much the same method that I used for my elderberry syrup which I described here. This basically involves simmering the roughly chopped hips in enough water to cover for about half an hour, then straining through a jelly bag to get rid of all the pesky and irritating hairs. You can return the hips to the pan with fresh water once or twice more and get a lot more juice from them so don’t throw them away after the first go. When the liquid is cool I mix in about half the quantity of raw honey. You can add more, up to equal amounts to make it last longer but this can over power the delightful sweet and sour taste of the rose hips.
Another syrup I made this year used dates and a couple of fresh chillis from a plant on my windowsill to make a lovely warming, earthy and sweet treat that hasn’t lasted long at all in our house! I made it by simmering and straining the rose hips with the chillis as above, then making a paste from several fresh dates and a little of the rose hip juice over a low heat adding a little more juice at a time until it is all well mixed. At the end I added a little brandy to help preserve it as it wouldn’t keep long otherwise. This has definitely been my favourite rose hip recipe of the season!
Rose hips are rich in Vitamin C and other antioxidants including flavonoids which have been shown in some studies to have anti-inflammatory properties. The flower of the rose is also known for its cooling and soothing properties when dealing with inflammatory conditions. These properties and other constituents like plant sterols also make rose hips beneficial for protecting the cardiovascular system.
All the more reason to enjoy some lovely rose hip syrup in our tea or any other way that takes your fancy.