Harvesting and Processing Rose Hips

Wild roses grow just about anywhere and their fruit, the rose hip, can be harvested from first turning red in the fall well into the winter season. Rose hips are extremely tasty and make wonderful jam and syrup. They are also very nutritious due to their high vitamin C content. During World War II, both the American and the British government organized foraging expeditions for rose hips to make rose hip syrup. People were encouraged to consume the syrup to compensate for food shortages.

Yesterday, my brother and I braved the bitter cold to forage for rosehips ourselves. We only harvested a few handfuls before the threat of frostbite drove us back home but we will certainly be back for more on a milder day!

Waiting till after frost to harvest concentrates the sugars. The rose hips do slowly loose some of their vitamins with time, but we have foraged for rosehips as late as February without loss of flavor.

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Rose hips get a little mushy after frost. This actually makes processing easier.

Processing

First remove the hard flower end and open up the hips to check for any insect damage or rot.

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Cover with water and mash.

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Strain and mash the rose hip pulp through a heavy duty sieve.

You will see the pulp “sweat” through the sieve, as it works its way through all the seeds, skins, and little hairs.

This is your raw product. Work out as much as you can, and then remove the now thickened mixture from the sieve, and dilute it with water. There is more mash to be removed. Repeat the process 3 times, and your end result should look like a fairly clean pile of seeds and skins, with little pulp remaining.

You can use the pulp to make syrup, jam, or use it in soups.

To make jam, simply add sugar to the rose hip pulp to taste (50/50 is reasonable), and heat it to boiling temperature, with careful stirring to avoid any tragedies.

Voila, you have rose hip jam. Water-bath can if not storing in the refrigerator. If making syrup, dilute the paste with more water and add more sugar.

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