Rose hips are the fruit of the rose, and they are at their best right now. The frost we have been having here on the island sweetens the rose hips, and the sunny days that are mostly associated with frosty nights makes it a great time to go picking. Rose hips are the fruit of the rose, and they will develop if you do not prune off the spent flowers.You may have some rose hips already in your yard if you grow roses and do not cut off all the flowers, but there are also hips available on wild roses. There are five varieties common in British Columbia, Arkansas rose (Rosa arkansana), Prickly wild rose (Rosa acicularis), Prairie rose (Rosa woodsii), Baldhip rose (Rosa gymnocarpa) and Nootka rose (Rosa nutkana). The wild rose is a tough plant, adapted to dry, harsh environments, and impervious to salt spray. I went for a leisurely walk along a wild stretch of beach yesterday, and found an abundance of them.
The wild roses are great plants to grow in your garden. Besides providing you with an amazing display of gorgeous and fragrant blooms, they also provide food for humans and for birds. The young shoots are edible, either raw or steamed (peeled and stripped of thorns of course), and you can brew up the leaves for tea. Rose petals make a wonderful addition to salads, in teas, and to decorate baked goods. The hips have a variety of uses, including jellies, syrups, purees, and teas. By themselves, or mixed with other fruit, they make excellent fruit leathers, and are full of Vitamin C. One hundred grams of rosehips have 426 grams of Vitamin C. They actually contain more Vitamin C per gram than citrus fruits. They also contain Vitamins A B D and E
I had read in more than a few places that the hairs inside the rosehip can be extremely irritating to the system. Some indigenous peoples believed it gave one an “itchy bottom” to consume them. I had always used rose hips, both fresh and dried whole before as tea, and found I had no troubles with any digestive irritation, but this time I wanted to try to make some sort of syrup, sauce, or puree from them, so I wanted to make sure the hairs were gone. One recipe I looked at instructed me to slice each and every rose hip and take the seeds and the hairs out. I was dismayed. This did not fit in with lazy garden living. Cut every one? I kept searching for recipe ideas, and finally found one on Robin Harford’s excellent website, “Eat Weeds”. Robin suggests drying the hips for 5-6 hours, then grinding them in a food processor, than sifting out the hairs! Brilliant! And a lot faster than cutting each rose hip and spooning out the seeds and hairs.