Edmonton’s river valleys and parks are blessed with lots of wild rose bushes. I take joy in going into the valleys in the fall to collect rose hips. What are rose hips? Seen here, they are the bulb of the rosebud essentially.
They are an excellent source of vitamin C. They have been used for centuries by aboriginal populations for this reason. It’s interesting to note that During World War II, there was a public campaign started by registered dietitian, Claire Loewenfeld who was working for Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children encouraged people to collect wild rose hips and make a rose hip syrup for children. The topic even made it into the British Medical Journal (BMJ)! (1). Citrus fruits imported during this period came on ships and like many other ships with various goods heading to britain, they were a target, resulting in a shortage of imported citrus fruits during the war.
Rosehips have been used for medicinal and therapeutic properties for centuries. Roseship or rose oil is extracted from the rose hip. It’s high in vitamin C, and also contains vitamin A and B in smaller quantities. Rosehips contain more vitamin C than citrus fruits, which is great to know for wild foraging and for those wanting to love local. No need to buy citrus fruits to get your vitamin C, you have a plentiful source in your backyard.
Rose oil is a common ingredient as a base oil in many perfumes and colognes. Rosehip seeds and flesh can be used to infuse oils for creams and other skincare products. I’ve made rosehip infused grape seed and olive oils for face creams and have added rose hips to a salt scrub and soap.
How to dehydrate rose hips and get rid of the itchy hairs inside:
[NOTE: There is a newer post on my blog regarding the steps to preserving wild rosehips. Please see it for a more information. Link: http://ameyastudio.com/2012/10/17/step-by-step-p…-wild-rosehips/ ]
I like making tea out of the buds so that I can get my vitamins in the winter. You can eat the rose hip raw too if you are careful to avoid the hairs inside which are quite itchy. Here is a photo essay of how I extracted the seeds and pulp and got rid of the itchy hairs inside starting from dehydrated rose hips through to retaining the dried flesh and seeds. It didn’t take very long at all and can be done with a few simple tools many of us have in the kitchen.
Rosehips have also been used to make jams, jellies, wines and more! For these types of preserve, you would use the whole fruit rather than dehydrating as shown above. Mike and I also just kept some of the liquid from boiling the rose hips (which you would use for the jelly), and put a little bit in our morning smoothies. Tasted great!
Here is a recipe for rose hip jelly.
1) Loewenfeld, C. Vitamin C from Rosehips. Br Med J. 1941 June 28; 1(4199): 988–989.
2) Loewenfeld, C. 1942(?). Herb Gardening: How and Why to Grow Herbs. (book)