Sunday, October 19, 2008

Rose hips

My mom is hosting a rose hip epidemic. She has a wild rose bush that has taken over a corner of her yard which produced a profusion of hips this year. I took my younger two down to help pick. We'd had a couple of hard frosts, even down in town, and the time was right. First we made a stop at our favourite chestnut tree in town and bagged enough chestnuts for a Christmas loaf. Then it was on to the rose hips. Wow ... blue sky, green and yellow leaves, bright orange-red rosehips, warm sun! Who could have asked for anything better.

We picked and picked. Fiona and Sophie kept throwing out guesses (and critiqueing each others' guesses) as to how much we had picked, estimating numbers of rose hips and overall weight. We had decided to go for five pounds, with a bit of a cushion to make sure.

When we got home, we naturally had to measure our harvest. We had almost exactly six pounds, so we were pretty pleased. But the girls also had to know how many we had picked. So we counted out a hundred, weighed them, and then divided that weight into the total to find that we had picked about 1040 rose hips.

We washed and cleaned them, simmered them in some water and then mashed them and pressed the juice from them. It was a lot of work, but I had a lot of help. For now the juice is in the fridge. In a couple of days we'll make jelly, likely by combining the rose hip juice with apple cider. It's extra yummy that way.

We all enjoy the 'something from nothing' aspect of wild harvesting. Rose hips are everywhere around here. A person could pick for days down by the lupine garden and not make a dent in the rose hips there.

It was an elderly Japanese man who moved to our town as a WWII internee who first introduced me to the wild rose pathway by the lupine garden and told me what a great tea hips make and what a great source of Vitamin C they are. I really wish that more people would make use of the natural bounty beneath their noses. There is certainly some sharing of local / traditional wisdom that happens in our town ... but we could sure use a lot more of it!

10 comments:

  1. Anonymous11:25 pm

    Miranda, you could try to make some cold rose hip soup. When I grew up in Sweden it was a favorite for all kids. We had the store bought variety though. But there must be a recipe somewhere...We often put tiny almond "cookies" in it to sweeten it up further. Wish there were rose hips here in Ontario I knew of! AnnaLena

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  2. AnnaLena, I found this recipe based on your suggestion. Does that sound about right? It's especially interesting to me because it uses dried rose-hips which are easy for us to amass by the zillions. Fresh ones need to be dealt with immediately, but the dried ones keep well for years. Thanks for the tip!

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  3. Can you use any rose to collect rose hips from?..Ive never been interested in growing roses but now I am..always looking for healthy food sources in our own little yard:)
    Lee

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  4. I was feeling that way this summer, when we were up island on holiday. I have a bag of little red huckleberries in the freezer as a result, along with some Oregon grapes. And every so often I collect acorns and grind them into flour for muffins. Haven't made rose hip jelly for ages though.

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  5. What a great activity! I always feel a bit nervous about wild harvesting myself but remember how much fun I had as a child gathering mushrooms in the forest with my mother.

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  6. Lee, we've noticed that wild roses tend to have large plump hips that grow in profusion, while those of domesticated roses tend to be very small and far fewer. I think domesticated roses have been bred to put most of their energy into the production of a few huge flowers per plant, rather than a mass of small flowers like a wild rose bush. Since you only get one hip per flower, I think you'd definitely want to plant wild roses if you can. Twenty or thirty rose flowers per plant might be tons if you're looking for a pretty show, but the hips from those flowers would likely only yield a couple of teaspoons of syrup. We've successfully grown wild roses from cuttings. If you can find a roadside bush with large plump hips, I'd take a cutting and try to root it out. That would probably be the best route to a bountiful harvest.

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  7. Yum! I remember picking rose hips with my mom in Alaska when I was little! It makes great jelly, and one year ours didn't set so it was "syrup," and that was yummy too!

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  8. AnnaLena4:32 pm

    Yes, that sounds like the right kind.I printed it out for myself too if I get a hold of some rose hips, I think the health food store might carry dried ones. Best of luck in making it, YUM!

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  9. AnnaLena4:56 pm

    Here is another recipe I found:

    http://www.sweden.se/templates/cs/CommonPage____12954.aspx

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  10. The rose hip bug has bitten here too, thanks to your post and a receipe demonstrated on the BBC's gardening programme on Friday night - see http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/womanshour/food/recipe93.shtml

    We didn't have much success with our rose hip harvest - only a few shrivelled ones left. Either we were beaten to it, or it's a sign of a hard winter. See the harvest in progress, if you can call it that, at
    http://occasionalscotland.blogspot.com/2008/10/wild-harvest.html

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