Health & Wellness

Why forage for Rose Hips?

Janet Moje
Why forage for Rose Hips?

Everyone has probably heard of the benefits of vitamin C, or at the very least, that it prevents scurvy, the bane of sailors long ago. But it is also helpful to know that vitamin C is vital for the growth, development and repair of all our tissues.

Our bodies cannot make vitamin C and doesn’t store it so we have to ingest it daily to get the benefits.

Vitamin C is water-soluble and the body will easily excrete what it doesn’t need. The recommended daily requirement for adults is between 75-90 milligrams (mg) per day although higher dosages of 2,000 mg daily have been found safe. Vitamin C deficiency can be identified by bruising, bleeding gums, weakness, anemia and loose teeth.

Rose hips can have up to 60 times more vitamin C than oranges, depending on your source. Suffice to say, it is higher in vitamin C than citrus fruits. They can be eaten raw, made into a sauce, syrup or jelly, or hot or cold tea. It has a mildly tart, fruity flavour.

But it isn’t just a powerhouse when it comes to vitamin C. It is also rich in vitamins A and E, and full of antioxidants including a high amount of lycopene, which is said to be a cancer preventative. This makes rose hips an excellent immune system booster, and with its astringent qualities along with vitamin A content, it helps keep the skin elastic and nourished. Some say it even helps minimize wrinkles.

Historically in folklore, rose hips were used to help with digestive problems, urinary and kidney disorders, rheumatism, arthritis, gout, colds, high blood pressure, intestinal conditions, healing wounds and scars, inflammation, heart disease, even thought to be a cure for rabies.

More recently, some studies suggest them to be useful as an antidepressant, helping to fight seasonal affective disorder and other side effects of depression; as a preventative for bladder infections, easing dizziness and reducing pain of headaches, helping calm the heart, dry up mucus, clear sinus infections, and eliminate coughs or congestion.

Harvesting & Preparation

We are blessed with an abundance of wild roses in the Robson Valley. The best time to gather the hips are after a frost when they turn a deep red. They should be somewhat soft, but not shriveled on the stem. Be careful to gather them from an area that hasn’t been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides. The seeds have fine hairs, which can be irritating if eaten, so to prepare them, cut them in half and scrape out the seeds before dehydrating or freezing them.

Rose hips can be used in a variety of ways:

Healing agent: 4 Tablespoons rose hips in boiling water. Simmer for 10 minutes. Soak cotton in liquid and apply directly to skin wound or scab.

Skin oil: soak rose hips in olive oil for four weeks. Strain, and apply as a moisturizer.

Juice: Simmer prepared rose hips in water until well softened. Strain out liquid. Mash and simmer again with less water and strain again. The liquid can be used as a cold drink, or for syrup, jam or jelly, the pulp for jams or powder.

Syrup: 1 pint rose hip juice and ¾ lbs sugar, simmer until sugar is dissolved. You can also mix the juice into 1 cup of honey and simmer until well blended. Use the syrup as a cough medicine or dilute for a throat gargle.

Powder: Spread pulp thinly on cookie sheet and dry in a low oven with the door slightly ajar to let moisture escape. When completely dry, grind into powder.  It is delicious on cereal or in beverages or a partial flour substitute.

WEBMD has a list of precautions regarding the ingestion of rose hips, especially if you are on medications. It is always a good idea to check with your physician before adding wild foods to your diet.