This post is a work in progress. Generally I like to finish projects and make sure that they’re tasty / effective / fun before sharing them with you. But I’m going to take a bit of a risk and just let you know what I’ve got brewing in the cupboard…
Last weekend I found bushes filled with these gorgeous, red rosehips. These weren’t your normal small oval shaped rosehips – these were huge, round, bright red – almost like cherry tomatoes! The rosehips out right now are the Japanese rosehip (Rosa rugsoa) which are a native Asian plant, but now are widespread across Europe and North America. They’re even considered invasive in the UK (which means there are lots of them around – hurray!)
During World War II, the British government encouraged people to pick rosehips and make rosehip syrup for a much-needed Vitamin C boost.
The sticky insides of rosehips can also be used as a severe itching powder (apparently great fun for British kids, right up there with throwing bits of sticky weed at each other.)
But why do we care about rosehips? They’re loaded with Vitamin C. They’re tasty (apparently – I’ll find out in a few weeks!). They’re gorgeous, easy to identify, and everywhere!
Why would you want to use roses & rosehips?
I love roses as an herbal remedy. The flowers make a great addition to a floral herbal tea. Roses are relaxing and uplifting, and used traditionally for any emotional distress (especially loss/bereavement). They also taste nice, and make the tea look really pretty and colorful!
If you are going to pick roses to dry and use in tea, just make sure they’re unsprayed (no nasty pesticides in my tea, thank you!) Since I don’t have a source of unsprayed roses near me, I order my dried rosepetals online and add them to my teas.
Rosehips come out later in the year, after the flowers have disappeared. You can normally pick rosehips over a period of 4 weeks or more (as long as the birds don’t get them first!).
Some people say that the rosehips are nicest after the first frost – but again, I’ll have to report back on that one as this is my first year experimenting with rosehips!
So what can we make with rosehips?
I picked a bagfull of rosehips. Then started doing some research into what I could make with them.
I kept coming across Rosehip Syrup. It sounds lovely (lovely!!) – rose scented, full of vitamin C, can be used in hot drinks, in tea, over desserts, or just by the spoonful as a winter tonic.
I was tempted to make some rosehip infused alcohol using the same method as this winter warmer rum. I’ll probably do that with my next batch of rosehips this year.
I also found a recipe for a rosehip jam that sounded really nice … but I just didn’t have the time to make jam.
Then a friend tipped me off to Rosehip Vinegar … and the lightbulb went off in my head!
Cider vinegar has lots of health benefits, preserves the herbs like a tincture (so it will keep for a long time), and takes about 5 minutes total to prepare. Perfect!
But what about the itchy hairs?
I’ve never worked with rosehips before, so I’m experimenting here. I even considered rubbing some rosehip on my skin just to see what it felt like…
Then I wimped out. (Maybe next time!)
After consulting with an herbal expert friend, I’m convinced that if I double-filter the vinegar through a fine cheesecloth / jelly bag at the end, all of the offending hairs will be removed.
Readers – who has experience with rosehips? Do you always remove the insides when making syrup & jam? What about when drying them for tea?
Wild Rosehip Vinegar (a work in progress)
Here is the “recipe” I’m trying for my wild rosehip vinegar. I’m going to let it soak for 6 weeks, and will report back with the results!
2 large handfuls of rosehips, green stems removed, cut in half
Very clean jar (just big enough to hold all the rosehips)
Very fine cheesecloth / jelly bag
Very clean empty vinegar bottle
Put rosehips in the jar, and fill to the top with cider vinegar. Twist on lid. LABEL (always the most important step). Let it sit for 4-6 weeks, shaking occasionally.
Strain out the rosehips and save the vinegar. Strain the liquid twice through a very fine cheesecloth to remove any small hairs or debris.
Store in a very clean bottle, and label.
How to use: This recipe is still infusing, but my plan is to use it in salad dressings, and to drink it as a daily tonic (like this sports drink). Does a cider vinegar drink sound strange? It’s actually very refreshing. I plan to use this vinegar a lot during cold/flu season this winter as an immunity boost.
—> UPDATE: Read Part 2 of Wild Rosehip Vinegar here
I’m new to working with rosehips – so please share your knowledge, recipes and experiences here! Have you ever made rosehip vinegar before? Let us know in the comments!