Rose hips are the seedpods of a rose bush. If the flowers are cut from the plant before they are allowed to wither and go to seed, seedpods won't develop. Rose hips look like small berries, and in earlier centuries they were cultivated as a fruit and used medicinally. Rose hips have a higher concentrate of vitamin C than citrus fruit. Great Britain relied on rose hips as a source of vitamin C during World War II.
Dried rose hips make a sweet, tangy tea rich in vitamin C. Never harvest rose hips for ingestion purposes from plants treated with pesticides that are unsafe for food crops. When preparing rose hips, avoid using utensils or pans made from aluminum, because, according to Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor at University of Vermont, this can destroy the vitamin C. Snip off the ends of each rose hip, cut lengthwise and remove the seeds and hairs from its center. After rinsing the rose hip under water, dry the prepared seedpod using a food dehydrator or similar drying method. Steeping the dried rose hips in hot water will make tea.
Instead of tea, make rose hip wine. One recipe, from "Recipes for the Eight Sabbats" calls for 3 lbs. of rose hips, 3 lbs. of sugar and 1 gallon of water. Initially the rose hips are prepared in the same manner as when making tea but instead of drying the rose hips, they are placed in a large bowl with boiling water and stirred with a wooden spoon. After covering and setting for several weeks, the liquid is strained, sugar added and the mixture sets for another five days. The wine is then bottled and left to ferment for about six months.
Earlier generations commonly used rose hips when making jelly, jams, syrup and candy. Some recipes, such as one for making rose hip jelly, begin in the same manner as when making tea. Make candied rose hips by boiling the seedpods for ten minutes in sugar water; drain the seedpods; cover with sugar and dry. Eat candied rose hips as a sweet treat or add to cookies or other baked goods.