Wild Rose Hips

Wild Rose Hips

Wild rose hips on the vine.

Winter is setting in. The mornings are getting colder, it’s getting dark earlier, and most of the leaves are on the ground. As the foliage of the forrest dies back and the first frosty morning threatens to rear it’s head, the wild rose hips glow like fiery winter jewels.

I’ve long read about the edible and medicinal benefits of rose hips, but I’ve continually been frustrated in my attempts to harvest them. The edible part of the wild rose hip is the red skin. It has a pleasant citrus taste and is high in antioxidants and vitamin-C – an important wintertime supplement prized by both the Native Americans as well as the early settlers.

drying rose hips

Quarter rose hips and dry in a paper envelope. Shake once a day to help air circulation.

The inside of the rose hip, though, is full of hard seeds and slivers – a sharp, downy material similar to that on the surface of a maple tree seed. In the past, my attempts to separate the insides from the outer skin destroyed most of the skin and left my fingers full of slivers.

A few weeks ago, it finally dawned on me that it may be more effective to clean the husk after giving it some time to dry. This turned out to be quite a good idea. I quartered the rose hips and stored them in an envelope to dry. Every morning I gave the envelope a good shake to help air flow and aid drying.

preparing dry rose hips

The cap to a ballpoint pen makes an excellent tool for cleaning the seeds and fluff from the dried rose hips.

After about a week, the husk was dry and hard. The cap to a ball-point pen made a perfect tool for scraping the inside of the husk. A quick scoop deposited the slivers and seeds into a garbage can. Now the husks were ready for long term storage! This simple drying process is a huge improvement over my efforts to clean fresh rose hips.

Fresh and dried rose hips are often used for tea. Mixed with diced, fresh Grand Fir or Douglas Fir needles (also very high in vitamin-C), it makes an incredibly tasty and healthy tea.

I’ve also seen recipes that used the dried rose hip husk in cookies and muffins. They can typically be used anywhere you’d use raisins or other dried fruit. Their citrusy taste makes them an excellent substitution for lemon or orange zest in holiday recipes.

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4 Responses to “Wild Rose Hips”
  1. Love me some rose hips chris, but have only ever nibbled away on hikes. never thought to harvest and dry them out. Sounds like a plan

  2. Enid Quigley says:

    I have some wild small head roses and this year I have just seen pink white fluff like a dandelion head all over the hips. Can you tell me what it is and will the hips be safe to use?

    • Chris says:

      I have no idea what that fuzz might be. If you have doubts though, be safe and avoid it. I know the inside of the rose hips is filled with fine, prickly hairs like those on the end of a maple tree seed. Removing those hairs is the hardest part of harvesting them. Could that be the same fuzz you’re seeing?

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