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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Backyard Foraging: For Your Medicine Cabinet

Hi everyone! Have you ever looked at the label on your vitamin C bottle and noted that it includes 'Rose Hips'? Have you wondered what on earth the hip of the rose is, and why it's in your vitamin bottle? Approximately 3 rose hips (which are teeny things) have as much vitamin C as 1 orange! Isn't that amazing? I'm going to tell you today how you can eliminate buying any more of those vitamin bottles and gather your own home-grown vitamin C!

First off, you need to locate some rose bushes that are not going to be sprayed with chemical sprays. This could be a rose bush in your own yard, your neighbor's yard, or even wild rose bushes growing along the edge of an orchard or field. To harvest the rose hip, you need to stop deadheading your plants towards the end of August or September. The hip is the garlic-shaped fruit that is left after the rose blooms. (The above picture is some hips that I pulled off of my knock-out rose and are already starting to dry and get wrinkly.) Let the hips form on the plant and leave them until after at least the first frost, if not a few more frosts. Pull the hips off, remove the stem and blossom ends. Rinse and dry the hips. You can split them in half and use 1-2 tablespoons of fresh hips to 1 cup boiling water to make tea. Or you can dry them for later use by laying them in a single layer on a cookie sheet in a dark place, or in an oven on the lowest setting, or even in your dehydrator. Obviously, the cookie sheet method will take up to a few weeks to finish the drying process. The hips are dried when they are hard, wrinkly, and dark in color. (Note that some of mine NEVER turned wrinkly, but are hard and dark.)
The picture above shows dark, wrinkly, dried rose hips from my neighbor's wild rose bushes. These wild rose hips are significantly smaller than my knock-out rose hips. To make tea with dried hips, use 2 teaspoons per cup of boiling water. Steep for 10-15 minutes. Store your dried rose hips in a jar or plastic baggie in a dark room.
There are lots of instructions online for making rose hip mash, jelly, and other items. I've not tried any of those recipes, so I won't republish any of them here. But, if you're interested just Google rose hip recipes and give a few a try!

(Dried rose hips can also be used in potpourri for gifts, or left on the vine to be used as simple, rustic decorations as the above picture shows.)

Prep On!
Gen-IL Homesteader
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