Did you know you may have a tasty tea that is free for the taking and incredibly nutritious? Back when I lived in Colorado, it wasn't uncommon to drink herbal teas because we had Celestial Seasons up in Boulder. Little did I know that I'd be sort of following in their footsteps when I got to Montana and started foraging berries. One exceptional berry that should be on everyone's list (whether they live in Montana or not) is the rose hip. Rose hips are high in Vitamin C and contain Vitamin A and Vitamin E.
Where the Wild Roses Grow
The rose hip is the seed pod of the species rose or wild rose. It is oval or round in shape with a red or orange case and an interior that has some fruit pulp and seeds. Species roses grow everywhere, but there are subspecies of roses throughout the United States and Canada. Like the domestic rose, they have thorns and bright flowers (usually pink). Species roses usually have five petals.
Wild roses grow near water sources, but I've also seen them in fields. The fruit tastes anywhere from bland to very sweet, fruity with a hint of flowers. But the floral taste isn't overpowering. It's a popular food for bears and birds, so when you're picking, be sure to have someone watching out while you pick because you might run into a bear who might not want you gathering his berries.
How to Recognize Rose Hips
Rose hips are easy to recognize because of their color and shape. They have wispy "hairs" at the bottom where the flower dried up. You'll find them on rose bushes, which have thorns. Domesticated roses have rose hips, but never use those that have been sprayed with pesticides and other toxic chemicals. If you aren't sure if you found a rose hip or a rose bush, have someone who knows what rose hips look like help you identify them. Don't take chances, but rose hips are one of the few fruits that are very obvious.
When you gather your rose hips, wear heavy gloves. Even if you use a berry picker like I do, you'll want to wear gloves or get your hands and wrists scraped up by the thorns.
Once you have your rose hips, you can dehydrate them for later use. Whether you have fresh or dried, you can make rose hip tea or tisane. (Tisane is the term for herbal teas.) Rose hip tea is easy to make. I always drink from a mug, so my recipes are for 12 ounces or more for tea. Of course, if you use a normal 8-ounce cup, you'll have a stronger tea if you use the same amount of rose hips, but because rose hips have no caffeine, you're more likely to just get a strong fruity flavor without bitterness.
The tea gurus claim that herbal teas or tisanes need a much lower temperature than black or green tea. This is because you'll "cook" the herbs instead of brewing them. So the temperature you should brew at is somewhere around 180 and 190 degrees Fahrenheit. You can use an electric water kettle and adjust the temperature perfectly.
Rose hip Tea Recipe
• 1 tbsp fresh rose hips mashed or 1 1/2 tsp dried rose hips crumbled, or about 10 whole rose hips before crumbling or mashing
• 1 1/2 cups water (12 ounces)
• 1 tsp unrefined sugar or honey (optional)
Heat water to 190 degrees Fahrenheit. Place rose hips in the tea infuser in your teapot. Add water. Steep 3 to 5 minutes. Strain into your mug and add sugar or honey, if desired.
Maggie Bonham is a multiple award-winning author, editor, and publisher who is a canine and feline behavioral expert and science fiction/fantasy writer living in the wilds of Montana. She raises horses, Alaskan Malamutes, cats, chickens, geese, ducks, turkeys, a llama and 14 ornery and loveable goats. Maggie is the publisher of both Sky Warrior Books and Garnet Mountain Press, which publish science fiction, fantasy, mystery, and nonfiction. Visit Maggie's blog, Eating Wild Montana, find her on Facebook and Twitter. Read all of Maggie’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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