Why You Can (And Should!) Harvest Rose Hips From The Beach
Beach Rose, aka Rosa Rugosa, is often referred to as hamanasu or “shore eggplant” in Japan– but here in the Northeastern United States, this staple beach-front bush grows bright pink flowers and fruit that we lovingly refer to as Rose Hips.
Now that the summer is dwindling to a close, it’s finally time to harvest the buds that have been delighting our vacations and beach visits for the entire season. A native plant of Asia, Rose Hips offer both edible flowers and edible fruit that range in color from white to pink to subtle hues of purple.
Rose hips thrive in sand, salt marshes, and rocky shores in full sun, which is why they have come to be associated with New England beaches (though they are also a popular landscape staple in England). The bushes first appear in the spring and ripen into beautiful pink blossoms in the summer, which adds a nice pop of color to coastal vistas while presaging the growth of a crab-apple like fruit (which makes sense, because rose is in the same family as apples and crab apples).
Because Rosehips shouldn’t be harvested until Autumn (you should never cut the blossoms otherwise you won’t get hips!), the bush sets up its owners for each season: in the summer you get the beautiful blossoms, in the fall you reap the health benefits of the hips. Rose Hips are an excellent source of Vitamin C (almost 20x the vitamin C of an orange!) and are loaded with antioxidants and lycopene.
The most common way to prepare rose hips is as a rose hip syrup, which has a slightly tropical, mango-floral flavor that pairs well with spirits and baked goods. Given its high vitamin C content, its also often used as a winter cold remedy. You can also make a simple rose hip tea by steeping 4-8 rose hips for about 10 minutes.
To prep rose hips, cut off stem and bud ends, slice in half, and scoop out seeds with spoon. From this point on the culinary possibilities are endless: Rose hips can be used to make jellies, cordial syrups that make excellent autumnal cocktails, tea, and more. Below, Garden Collage excerpts some of our favorite recipes.
Rosehip Cordial Syrup Recipe (via The Guardian)
- 4 cups (~1 kg) rosehips, washed and chopped
- 4 cups (~1 kg) caster sugar
- cheesecloth or sieve
- Put 8.5 cups (two litres) of water in a large pan and bring to the boil. Throw in the chopped rose hips, bring back to the boil, then remove from the heat, cover and leave to infuse for half an hour, stirring from time to time.
- Strain the mixture through a cheesecloth or sieve. (Alternatively, line a colander with a couple of layers of muslin and place over a large bowl. Tip in the rose hip mixture, and leave suspended over the bowl.)
- Set the strained juice aside and transfer the rose hip pulp back to the saucepan, along with another 4 cups (~ litre) of boiling water. Bring to a boil, remove from the heat, infuse for another half an hour and strain as before. Discard the pulp and combine the two lots of strained juice in a clean pan. Bring to the boil, and boil until the volume has decreased by half. Remove from the heat.
- Add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Return to the stove, bring to the boil and boil hard for five minutes– this should result in a nice, syrupy texture. Pour into containers (we love these mason jars!) and seal.
Rose Hip Tea
For fresh rose hip tea, steep 4-8 hips in a cup of boiling water for about 10 – 15 minutes. It’s as simple as that!
Rose Hip Jelly
Rose hip jelly is lovely on toast and in baked goods, and can be paired with pork or venison for an interesting, medicinal marinade.
- 2 quarts rose hips
- 6 cups water
- 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1 package SureJell pectin
- 1/4 teaspoon butter
- 3 1/2 cups sugar
- 6 8-oz canning jars and fresh lids
- Add rose hips and water to a large pot, bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. Cover and cook for 1 hour, until rose hips are soft and mashable.
- Mash the fruit with a fork or potato masher, and then strain through a jelly bag until a large bowl, letting the mixture strain for about an hour. At the end of this time period, squeeze the bag to get out any remaining juice.
- You’ll need 3 cups of juice for this recipe, so if the contents of the strained mixture amount to less than that, add water until you have three cups (though note that this will dilute the strength of the rose flavor).
- Add 3 cups of rose juice, the lemon juice, and pectin to a large pot. Bring to a boil so that the pectin dissolves. Add sugar.
- Once sugar has dissolved, add butter and bring to a hard boil.
- Can in sterilized mason jars, or simply seal in a glass container and store it in the fridge. Fresh jelly will keep refrigerated for about 3 months– just long enough to extend the autumnal flavors of rose into the holiday season.