Story last updated at 8/26/2009 - 2:10 pm
In the August 5 installment of the Capital City Weekly, I promised to share some of the answers to home canning questions I've received over the past four and a half years. However, as I walked to the Bill Ray Center this morning, I realized that now is the time to collect, use, and preserve rose hips. So, I'm taking a detour. We'll look at rose hips this month and next month I'll share some further information about cooking and freezing freshly caught crab that was generated from readers' questions.
What are rose hips?
Rose hips are the bright red or orange fruits of the wild rose bush. It's the berry-like fruits left behind after the flower dies. They have a tangy, fruity flavor similar to that of cranberries. The fruit is called "hips" because it is smooth and somewhat round.
When are rose hips harvested?
Rose hips are best if collected in the fall, preferably after the first frost when they are still firm but red and ripe, although they can be collected any time from August through winter in most places. The hips should be soft and ripe: the riper the fruit, the sweeter the taste. The stem, or blossom end, and seeds of the rose hip should be removed before they are consumed. The hairs surrounding the seed can cause intestinal irritation.
What are the nutritional benefits of rose hips?
HealthNews.com provides a nutritional comparison between rose hips and oranges. According to their findings, certain types of rose hips have between 20 and 40 percent more vitamin C, 25 percent more iron, 28 percent greater calcium content, and 25 times more vitamin A. Rose hips are also a great source of vitamin E, selenium, and B-complex vitamins as well as slim amounts of potassium, magnesium, and silicon.
What are the medicinal benefits of rose hips?
As if the nutritional benefits were not enough to encourage adding this tasty fruit to the diet, rose hips (particularly the Dog Rose) contain high levels of antioxidant flavonoids with known anti-inflammatory properties (learn more at www.vegetarian-nutrition.info). In recent studies, the anti-inflammatory properties of rose hips have shown to be useful in the treatment of patients suffering from knee or hip osteoarthritis - a degenerative joint disease affecting over 20 million Americans. Osteoarthritis is characterized by the breakdown of cartilage in the joint, allowing bones to rub against each other, causing pain and loss of movement.
Rose hips also contain phytochemicals (health promoting chemicals found in plants that act as antioxidants in the body) known to protect against cancer and cardiovascular disease (CVD). They also contain up to 5 percent by weight of pectin, a soluble fiber that protects against CVD.
How are rose hips prepared?
There are many culinary uses for rose hips. The puree may be used to make jams, marmalades and catsup. Dried rose hips may be used for teas, added to cereal, cooked with fruit sauce or pulverized and added to baked products. Candied rose hips are used successfully in such products as cookies, puddings, and upside-down cakes.
Herbal Tea. For tea, use dried fruit or fresh fruit that has been crushed. Using about 2 tablespoons of fruit per pint of water, boil for 10 minutes. Can be served hot or iced.
Candied Rose Hips
(from the CES publication, "Collecting and Using Alaska's Wild Berries and Other Wild Products)
- 1 ½ cups rose hips
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ cup water
Remove the seeds from the ripe fruit using the point of a knife. Prepare a syrup by combining sugar and water; heat until the sugar is dissolved. Add the pitted rose hips and boil for 10 minutes. Lift the fruit from the syrup with a slotted spoon and drain on waxed paper. Sprinkle with sugar and dry in the sun or dry in a dehydrator following manufacturer's instructions. Store between sheets of waxed paper in a tightly covered container until used. (Yields 1 ½ cups)
For resources on food preservation, contact the Juneau District office: 907-796-6221.
Sonja Koukel, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Health, Home & Family Development Program for the Cooperative Extension Service UAF Juneau District. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 796-6221.