What better way to spend a brisk fall day than gathering rose hips, followed by a steaming cup of fragrant, healthy rose hip tea? These small red fruits of the rose bush are packed with Vitamin C and other nutrients. To grow or gather rose hips, bear in mind that the rugosa rose, an extremely hardy variety often found in the wild, produces the largest hips, but the smaller multiflora rose's fruits can also be used. A few cultivated garden roses bear hips as well; nursery catalogs often mention their presence in the plant descriptions.
Picking Rose Hips
Wait until after the first frost for your hip-picking expedition. The frost brings out the sweetness in rose hips.
Bring along thick gloves to combat thorns, and dress in sturdy clothes for the same reason. A bucket or pail makes a handy collection basket.
Look for rose hips with the best colors and textures. Green or yellow hips haven't yet ripened; you want the fully red or orange fruits. Avoid those with discoloration or mushy parts.
Pick the rose hips by breaking the stems as close to the tip of the fruit as possible. While rose hips are fairly strong, try to be gentle as you drop them into your pail.
Pick enough to make both fresh tea and dried hip tea--at least a pound.
Preparing Rose Hip Tea
Prepare fresh rose hip tea by simmering a half-dozen of the fruits, either whole or in pieces, for half an hour, then strain through a metal sieve to catch any seeds or hairs. If your strainer isn't fine enough, scoop out the seeds and hairs and discard them before simmering.
To dry rose hips, lay them on a newspaper-covered cookie sheet and let them slowly dry for a few weeks, whole. Or put them in a dehydrator for five to six hours.
Chop the dried hips into large pieces in a food processor.
Shake the rose hips into the fine-mesh sieve. The irritating hairs will fall through--discard those.
Store the rose hip pieces in glass jars or metal canisters.To make dried rose hip tea, simmer a good handful of the rose hips in a pot for about 30 minutes, then strain and serve.
About this Author
Melissa Jordan-Reilly has been a writer for 20 years, both as a newspaper reporter and as an editor of nonprofit newsletters. Among the publications in which she has published are, "The Winsted Journal," "Taconic" and "Compass Magazine." A graduate of the University of Connecticut, Jordan-Reilly also pursues sustainable agriculture techniques and tends a market garden at her Northwestern Connecticut home.