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Rose hips appear on rose bushes and throughout hedgerows in late summer and autumn. They can have a delicious fruity flavor and are packed with vitamin C! Use these tips for how to forage, dry and use rose hips for tea. It includes three ways to dry them and instructions on how to brew them in a teapot.
It’s that time of year again and the hedgerows are practically heaving with fruit. With most people intent on collecting juicy blackberries or elderberries, the bright red but rock-hard rose hip is often overlooked. Rose hips are the fruit of the rose bush and you can see them in the summer as a swollen green part of the stem just underneath the flower. In autumn they swell into a beautiful red ‘hip’ that look stunning on the bush. They’re also delicious dried and made into vitamin c rich tea.
Every rose left uncut will eventually produce a hip but some will appear in the summer and others later in the autumn depending on the species. To my knowledge, all rose hips are edible, though some varieties have better flavor than others. While a lot of people are familiar with making rosehip syrup, it takes a lot of sugar to make it. For a healthier alternative, simply dry rose hips for tea.
Rose-hip Tea is Rich in Vitamin C
Blessed with a delicate fruity taste and rich in vitamins A, B and C, rose hips can be used to make all kinds of things. Jellies, syrups, teas, wine, and even skincare. Rosehip oil is especially great for skin that needs rejuvenating!
Although all rose hips are good for tea, the best ones are hips from the common wild rose, also known as the Dog Rose Rosa canina. They’re firm, deep red hips that are rich in flavor and easy to find and harvest. Rosehips are ready to pick in autumn but the common advice is to harvest them directly after a frost since it’s supposed to improve their flavor. I usually pick well in advance of truly cold weather, though, and they’re perfectly fine. When picking, try to pick ones that are firm and vibrantly colored. If you find any that are going soft or that have dark spots on them, pass them by.
The Japanese rose Rosa rugosa is another common rose that produces edible and gigantic hips. Literally four or five times the size of a dog rosehip. You can often find them growing in municipal plantings here on the Isle of Man. I like to err on the cautious side and try to remove as much from inside these hips as possible before drying them.
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Drying Rose Hips for Tea
You can dry smaller hips, like that from the Dog Rose whole but the larger ones, such as Rosa Rugosa have a lot of hair inside. Rose hips are extremely nutritious but they do contain irritating rose hip hairs inside. Don’t worry though, you can filter them out either before or after the drying process.
To dry rose hips, first, rinse them with water and allow them to dry. If you’re using Rosa Rugosa hips, it’s best to cut them open and remove as many of the seeds and hair inside as possible. If you’ve picked smaller rose hips, then just snip the top and bottom of the hip off and leave it fairly intact.
Dry Rosehips in the Oven
There are three main ways to dry rosehips – in the oven, the food dehydrator, and air drying. Drying in the oven or a food dehydrator are good options if your humidity is high or the weather is dull and gray. Air drying takes less energy but more time but if you have a warm greenhouse or space in the house, it could be the best option.
To dry rosehips in the oven, place them spread thinly on a tray at low heat for about three and a half hours until they’re bone dry. You’ll need to prop open the oven door just a crack with a tea towel or oven mitt so that moisture can escape from inside.
Food Dehydrator Method
Drying rose hips in a food dehydrator is far easier and uses less energy than in an oven. Pick your rose hips, rinse them with cool water, and allow them to dry. Prepare as described in step one above and then place them in a thin layer on the racks of your food dehydrator. Allow your dehydrator to dry them until they are bone-dry. Cool and store as described above.
Air Drying Rose Hips
There are two ways of air-drying rose hips. If the weather is warm and dry you can first clean the hips and spread them on waxed paper or screens. The sun can dry smaller hips or pieces of hips in as little as a day. If they’re not completely dry, take the hips inside overnight and put them out again the next day. If you have a greenhouse or polytunnel you can dry them inside and leave them in overnight.
You can also dry rose hips inside. It takes around a month but it’s a good option if you’re pinched for outdoor space or the weather isn’t great. Clean and spread them on screens or wax paper-lined trays and set them someplace dry and well-ventilated. When they’re completely dry you can store them in jars.
Storing Dried Rosehips
Whichever way you dry rosehips, allow them to cool completely before storing them. The hips can be quite large at this point though so I tend to run dried rosehips through a food processor until they’re roughly chopped. Then I pour the chopped rosehips into a fine mesh strainer and shake the ‘itching powder‘ out and onto newspaper or into a bag. You’ll be amazed at how easy they fall through the mesh.
You can, of course, skip the food processor step, especially if you’ve dried small rose hips. They’ll make perfectly delicious tea even if you don’t chop them. The benefit of pulsing dried rosehips into a finer texture is that it increases the surface area so you’re able to get away with using fewer rosehips when you make tea. It’s also easier to mix with other herbs when making herbal tea infusions.
When you’re sure that the pieces are bone-dry, cool, and the size you’re after, store rosehips in an air-tight container in a dark and cool place until you’re ready to use them to make rosehip tea. Dried rosehips are best used within a year but can last longer depending on how well it’s stored.
Making Rose Hip Tea
Measure out 1 teaspoon of dried rose hips for each cup of tea you’re going to make. Pour scalding water over the hips and leave to infuse for about five minutes. Remove the tea leaf holder from your teapot and discard the contents. Rosehip tea tends to be orange in color but can be red to reddish-brown. Enjoy your vitamin-packed brew and add little honey, sugar, or stevia to sweeten it, if you like. Compost the wet rosehips after.