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!)
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 bagful 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.
Wild Rosehip Vinegar
- 2 large handfuls of rosehips, green stems removed, cut in half
- Cider vinegar
- 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.
The rosehip/vinegar mix was infusing on our shelf for 6 weeks. As you can see in the photo, the rosehips tended to float towards to top, so I gave it a shake every few days to keep them covered in vinegar. There was also a thick layer of sediment at the bottom, which is normal when making tinctures in alcohol or vinegar.
Strain out the rosehips and save the vinegar. Strain the liquid twice through very fine cheesecloth to remove any small hairs or debris.
The key with this recipe is to strain, strain, strain – really well! You want to catch every single little itchy hair.
I used a double layer of cheesecloth and strained out the rosehips.
Then used a fresh cheesecloth to do a second straining of just the liquid. I could see a few hairs in this second cheesecloth, so it definitely needed the second straining…
The liquid was a slightly lighter, rosier colored cider vinegar.
Now pour it into clean bottles for storage and LABEL. The rosehip vinegar should last for at least a year, probably several years.
How to use Rosehip Vinegar
I’m planning to mix a spoonful of this rosehip vinegar into a glass of water (and maybe sweeten it with a little honey) during the winter months.
Skeptical about how this tastes? Try it yourself, I think it’s really refreshing!