Cooking with Roses: How to Use Rose Petals, Leaves and Hips


rose hipsRose hips are what rose flowers grow up to be: they are the fruit of the same plants in the Rosa genus that grace parks, gardens, and front yards with beautiful flowers throughout the summer. And as well as being tasty, they bring a hefty dose of vitamin C to the table.

Rose hips contain a whopping 2000 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams of fruit. That vitamin content goes down some if you expose the rose hips to heat while you are making jam or tea, but enough remains to boost your C intake. If you want to preserve as much of the vitamin content as possible, try making infused rose hip vinegar (recipe below) with the raw fruit. You can also make rose hip freezer jam with the raw hips. If you had kept an eye on any single rose this past summer, you would have noticed that once it dropped its petals the base of the former flower began to swell into a green orb. That was a rose hip in the making.

By late summer and continuing into early fall, those former roses will turn bright red or orange. Rose hip fruits range in size from as small as 1/4-inch in diameter to as large as an inch or more across. They usually have a 5-pointed “crown” on one end, and tiny hairs on the skin of the fruit. Practical foragers will stick to large-fruited species such as Rosa rugosa, a species that is frequently used on beach front properties because it is salt tolerant.

Long after the compound leaves with their odd number of leaflets have fallen to the ground, the hips of the rose will continue to cling to the prickly canes. In fact, some foragers claim they are not ready to harvest until after a few winter freezes. I think they are at their best when they are not only brightly colored but have become slightly wrinkled and soft. But you can use them anytime after they have changed color from green to a bright red or orange hue. Notice that I said “prickly,” not “thorny.”

11/12/2013 11:07:37 AM

My wife uses rose hips that are not sprayed with the crap called herbitcides,She gets me to help collect them wild ones when ready.And also collect the tame ones also that grow free in our yard that we planted.They make a wonderful jelly or jam.

11/11/2013 11:14:34 AM

Can you use the hips from multiflora rose? I have a bumper crop of those this year! My domestic roses didn't make any rose hips though. An antique rose I was going to salvage got sprayed as a weed before I could dig it and move it.

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