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Wild Rose Hips Foraging: All You Need to Know

beach rose hip foraging
Beach Rose Hip (Rosa Rugosa).

Rose Hips Definition – What are Rose Hips

Rose hips are the fruits of the rose flower plant. Rose hips replace the fallen flowers when the temperatures lower. Rose hips are edible and are shaped round or oval. The color of rose hips is normally bright red to orange – the darker the red the riper. Even though the most common rose hips are red or orange, there are also rose hips that are purple, brown, or black. Rose hips are not poisonous, but be careful not to misidentify them with other berries, that might be bad for you. In this blog post, you will get all-around information about rose hips, how to preserve and use them, ideas for decoration, and a list of health benefits related to rose hips.

Beach Rose (Rosa Rugosa).

Rose Hip Season – When to Harvest Rose Hips

Ripen rose hips: August-December

This depends of course on where you live, but in general, rose hips come after the rose flowers have fallen – in Northern Europe and North America it is around July and August. After that, you will see the rose hips replace the flowers. The hips ripen late summer and can still be picked after the first frost in the winter months. Light frost actually helps sweeten the rose hip flavor. When you forage rose hips try first to feel the hip before picking it, the hip shouldn’t be too hard nor too soft.

foraging wild rose hips
Dog rose hips (Rosa canina). Photo: Helena Kirk

Where to Find Rose Hips

You can find rose hips in different terrain since rose hips can grow in poor soil conditions. Typically, you will find beach rose hips, as the name suggests, on the beach/near the coastline. Other species can be found on rose bushes in the woods, on the side of the road, and even by irrigation ditches. Rose hips are also common in parks, and on private property. Rose bushes and rose hips can survive wind, heat, and cold, and the rose bush is considered invasive and therefore difficult to get rid of.

Rose Hip Benefits 

Rose hips are tremendously underestimated in the food culture since they have a very high amount of vitamins, antioxidants, fibers, and nutrition compared to other edible fruits. Rose hips are actually known to be a rich natural source of vitamin C and in fact, contain 50% more vitamin C than oranges. Rose hips are used in oils and improve skin health by penetrating deep into the skin layer. In a number of studies, it has been suggested, that a daily 5-gram dose of rose hip supplement help treat symptoms of arthritis.

Other than that there are a number of good health benefits by eating rose hips:

  • Rose hips are high in antioxidants, particularly vitamin C, E, and B
  • Rose hips boost the immune system
  • Rose hips lower cholesterol and blood pressure
  • Rose hips enhance blood circulation 
  • Rose hips reduce inflammation
  • Rose hips may prevent heart disease
  • Rose hips may help prevent type 2 diabetes 
  • Rose hips treat diarrhea and stomach ulcers 

The Most Common Rose Hip Species:

beach rose hips
Beach Rose Hip (Rosa Rugosa).
  1. The beach rose (Rosa rugosa) is originally from eastern Asia and was brought to Europe in the late 17th century. The beach rose hip is the largest hip and is colored red to orange. You will typically find the beach rose in sand dunes near coastlines. The beach rose is very invasive and can be problematic to get rid of. 
  2. Dog rose (Rosa canina) is a wild rose species native to Europe, northwest Africa, and Western Asia. The dog rose hips are smaller than the beach rose and is oval in its shape.  
  3. Sweet briar rose (Rosa rubigionosa) is native to Europe and western Asia. The hips of the sweet briar rose are small red hips. The leaves of the rose smell like apples. 
  4. Multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora) are also classified as invasive but are, despite that, edible like the other rose hips. Multiflora roses found in the wild are mostly roses originally coming from gardens. The hips are small and red to orange in their color. 
  5. Burnet rose (Rosa pimpinellifolia) produces dark/purple/black rose hips. Burnet rose can be used as the other rose hips but is especially good for making a liqueur. The Burnet rose is native to Europe and northwest Africa. 
Dog rose hips
Dog Rose Hips (Rosa Canica).

12 Ways of Eating Rose Hips

There are plenty of ways of eating rose hips. They can be used to make tea, soups, jam, syrup, sprinkled on oatmeal, made into fruit leather, oil, wine, bread, pies, cakes, infused in alcohol – you name it! All rose hips are edible and safe to eat including the multiflora hips, burnet rose hips, dog rose hips and the beach rose hips – just be sure to identify the rose hip correctly and not confuse it with similar plants. 

How To Eat Rose Hips Raw

You can also eat raw rosehips straight out of the hedge if the rose hips are ripe. Simply pick the hip and use your thumps and your two forefingers and squeeze out the pulp of the hip. In this way, you will get the pulp out of the hip without any seeds. When the pulp is out, you can taste the fresh delicious raw rose hip. If they are too hard and not ripen, you will not be able to squeeze out the pulp. If you are still not sure how to do it, take a look at this video down below. Woodland Classroom shows you how to do it.

How to Preserve Rose Hips

Rose hips can be preserved in different ways. The most common way is to make them into tea, jam, jelly, powder, or syrup and in that way preserve them. If you want to preserve them as whole rose hips, I would recommend either to dry or freeze them.

How to Freeze Rose Hips 

If you don’t have time to use your badge of foraged rose hips or just haven’t yet decided what to use them for, you can always freeze your rose hips. There are two ways of freezing them:

1) Clean them and put the whole rose hips in a plastic bag or container.

2) Clean them and cut them in half and place them in a plastic bag. A huge benefit from cutting them in half is that when you take them out of the freezer, you can smash the plastic bag against your kitchen table, and in that way release the rose hip seeds from the hips.

How to Dry Rose Hips

To dry rose hips, you need a dehydrator or an appliance where the air exchange is very large.

  1. Place the whole rose hips in the dehydrator at room temperature. 
  2. The rose hips need 24-48 hours in the dehydrator to be sure they are completely dried and that there is no moisture left in the rose hip flesh. 

When drying rose hips at a low temperature we are preserving as much nutrients as possible. Dried rose hips can last for years if stored properly in an airtight container.

How to Make Dried Rose Hips into Rose Hip Powder

After 24-48 hours of drying the rose hips place them in a food processor or blender and process them until they become powder. Place the rose hip powder in a sealed jar. Rose hip powder can be used to make rose hip tea all year around.

How to Preserve Rose Hips using Liquid Glycerin

Check out Sarah Raven, who wrote the blog post: Preserving Rose Hips for Winter where she describes how you can preserve Rose Hips for decorations using liquid glycerin and warm water.

How to Make Rose Hip Tea using Fresh or Dried Rose Hips

Fresh Rose Hip Tea

  1. Cut the rose hips in half and place in a blender/food processor. 
  2. For 1 tablespoon of fresh rose hips use 1 cup (236 ml) of water. 
  3. Bring the water to a boil and turn off the stow. 
  4. Add the fresh, blended rose hips and put on a lid.
  5. Let the rose hips steep for a minimum of 2 hours. 
  6. Reheat the tea and use a strainer to pour the tea into a cup.

NOTE: You can always save the rest of the fresh rose hip tea in the fridge and reheat it when needed. 

Dried Rose Hip Tea

  1. Dry the rose hips and make them into powder as described above in “How To Dry Rose Hips” and “How To Make Dried Rose Hips Into Powder”
  2. Use 1 teaspoon of rosehip powder for 1 cup of water (236 ml) and let it sit for at least 30 minutes. Strain the tea and reheat it. You can of course experiment with the rose hip powder and water ratio if you prefer it less strong or more strong. 

You can also try to make rose hip tea by taking 3-4 whole dried rose hips, put them in a cup, and add boiling water. Cover the cup using the saucer or foil and keep it covered for about 15-20 minutes. You will now have a very nice red-colored rose hip tea. 

How to Remove Rose Hip Seeds

The seeds from the rose hips are not poisoned but can on some occasions be necessary to remove all depending on what you want to use them for. Here are two methods:

  1. You can, as described in the section “How to freeze rose hips” freeze the rose hips when cut in half and smash the plastic bag filled with rose hips against the kitchen table to de-seed the rose hips. This is an easy way but doesn’t always remove all seeds, but it is a good starting point. Removing seeds from especially small rose hips is time-consuming. 
  2. If you want to use the rose hips right away after the harvest you can de-seed the fresh rose hips by scooping/digging out the seeds after cutting them in half. If it is the larger beach rose hips, I would recommend using a spoon, and if it is the smaller rose hips that you are dealing with, it is typically easier to use a knife.

Removing the seeds from rose hips takes up a lot of time, so keep in mind If you are making rose hip syrup or rose hip jam and are going to strain the rose hips anyway, there is no reason to waste your time removing the seeds.


Using Rose Hips for Decoration

Rose hips have a beautiful color and are very commonly used in decorations. Since rose hips can be harvested in the winter, they are perfect for Christmas or winter decorations. Fresh, dried or preserved in other ways. You can cut off some branches of fresh rose hips and put them in a vase with water. Or you can also try to experiment with drying whole branches of rose hips and make creative decorations out of it.

Rose Hip Syrup and What to Use it for

Another way of using foraged rose hips is by making it into a delicious rose hip syrup. I have developed a recipe that I make every year. Rose hip syrup can be used on desserts such as pancakes and ice cream, in oatmeal or porridge, and of course as an amazing ingredient in a cocktail. Rose hip syrup has a lot of health benefits which is why it is a great vitamin boost in the cold winter.

Find the Rose Hip Syrup Recipe Here.

Rose Hip Syrup

Where to buy rose hip plants

You can buy rose bushes that produce edible rose hips in almost every garden centre/nursery. Typically, you can choose the type of rose bush and the size of it. Rose bushes are easy to keep since they don’t need much maintenance and they can withstand cold and warm temperatures and dry weather. Rose bushes do not need to be pruned, (it can take care of itself). If you decide to prune the bush anyway, the best time to do it is in spring around april. 

How to Grow Roses From Hips

You can definitely grow roses from hips by planting the seeds from the rose hips. 

The best time to germinate the rose hips are from December until February. Follow the steps below and you will grow your own roses in no time. A good piece of advice is to try to germinate 5-10 seeds in 2 different plastic bags, to higher the success rate of making the seeds germinate. 

What you need: 

  • A fresh, ripe rose hip
  • A knife
  • A plastic bag
  • Paper towel
  • A glass of water
  • Hydrogen peroxide (makes sure the water is sterilized)

Germinate the rose hip seeds 

  1. Carefully remove the seeds from the hip using a knife. The seeds need to be white which means they are fresh. 
  2. Mix a small glass of water with approx. one-fifth of hydrogen peroxide. 
  3. Fold the paper towel a couple of times and place it in the plastic bag. 
  4. Add a bit of the water-hydrogen peroxide mixture – only enough to wetten the paper towel. 
  5. Place the rose hips seeds on top of the wet paper towel and seal the plastic bag. 
  6. Place the plastic bag in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks. 

Growing Roses from Rose Hip Seeds

  1. Make a soil mixture without moisture using potting soil and perlite. 
  2. Remove the skin of the seeds so they become white again. 
  3. Place the seeds in the soil mixture and cover with a bit of soil on top. 
  4.  Water the seeds thoroughly so that the soil mixture is wetted. 
  5. Cut a piece of plastic and use it to cover the top of the pot. Spray the pot and the piece of plastic with water and attach it to the pot using an elastic band. 
  6.  Place the pot in a place with light and let the seeds germinate. 
  7.  Remember to water it when the soil mixture gets dry. 

Thank you for reading this blog post about rose hips! You are more than welcome to follow me on social media, where I publish wild food related content all-year-round!

Looking for more foraging and wild food related articles? Check out the articles below.

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