Rose hips are the small red or orange seedheads left on the rose bush after the flowers have faded. I don’t know why they are called hips; perhaps because they are so curvaceous? They are also known as rose haws, which does not have quite the same ring to it. They ripen from green to orange and some to deeper red. Generally, the smaller and redder the hip/haw is, the more flavor it has. And what flavor! Rich in tart vitamin C, with floral/herbal notes, rose hips are a secret ingredient in many tea blends. And that is key. While birds and other forest creatures can eat them freely when raw, the texture of a rose hip is nearly inedible to humans without cooking; the flesh is mealy, or dry, and the seeds inside have a furry coating that irritates the throat. When boiled or infused in water, though, the hips give up their rich color, flavor, and nutrition easily. Since both seeds and skins of rose hips are rich in pectin, the liquid will have a slightly thickened quality, a silkiness that glides through the mouth. In addition to vitamin C, rose hips also contain vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, and K.
If you are gathering your own rose hips, choose hips from bushes that have not been sprayed and are far from the roadside. Wild roses have better flavor than many cultivated varieties, though there are some, such as rugosa roses, that are grown specifically for their hips. You can find them, often without seeds, in the bulk herb section of many natural food stores. Commonly used for medicine for ailments ranging from the common cold to gastric inflammation, the rose hips you buy in the store will be selected for flavor and nutritional quality.
Please be sure of your identification and do not forage for wild foods unless you are an expert at plant identification.
Makes about 12 ounces.
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