The first frost has FINALLY come and gone here in Seattle, so the gardener in me is a little tiny bit sad because it means a slowed-down growing season has begun.
On the flip side, the forager in me is SUPER DUPER EXCITED because there are plenty of plants that are best to harvest in the late fall and into winter, precisely because of the frost. When certain plants sense that winter is on the way, they produce a ton of sugar in their fruit; then, us animals swoop in and eat them up, gaining all the sugars for ourselves. SCORE!
One great example of this is rosehips. Seattle has roses planted all over the damn place. Seriously, most public parks have roses - they obviously have no trouble thriving in this climate, and probably require very little maintenance here. This is lucky for us, because rosehips are awesome.
As I mentioned previously, roses themselves are edible. But once the petals fall off, the plants develop little fruits, which are quite delectable little sweeties once the frost has kicked their sugar-making into high gear.
So after the first frost, I happily tromped my way over to where I knew I could find a big batch of rosehips and harvested away! Now, it should go without saying that you need to take certain precautions. We're talking about rose bushes here, complete with nasty thorns and thick brambles that snag you and never let you go, dragging you down into their brambly underbellies to rot away and serve as their fertilizer. BUT - with proper gathering gear and precautions, you should be able to easily take in an awesome haul.
There are quite a few things you can do with rose hips, like making teas and various types of jams and marmalade. One great health benny is that they are crazy high in Vitamin C. We're talking OVER FIVE TIMES MORE Vitamin C than an orange! So make some stuff with rosehips and eat it all winter long to stay healthy. And if you make the syrup recipe below, you won't even have to force yourself to eat all of its sugary goodness in order to get those vitamins. Besides, it's time to put on that winter hibernation weight, right?
A quick note: there are tiny little hairs on the seeds inside the fruit - whatever you decide to do with them, make sure you strain them well to remove those little bastards. They can be an irritant to human intestines (though oddly, not the intestines of other animals).
Ok, to the recipe. When collecting rosehips, look for the ones that pull off the stems somewhat easily. Any hips that have started to shrivel and are a deep red are overripe - best to leave those for the birds and bees and for future harvests (they will fall and seed even more plants). The ripest rosehips are usually a sort or red to red-orange. The lighter orange ones are not ripe yet, and will result in a vigorous tug-o-war and less tasty hips.
Recipe Type: Sauce | Author: Edible Terrain
Prep time: 5 minutes | Cook time: 55 minutes | Yield: 4 oz. syrup
- 2 cups rosehips, whole
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- Roughly chop rosehips in a food processor.
- Bring rosehips and water to a boil in a small saucepan. Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes.
- Strain mixture through a double layer of muslin into a bowl. Let the pulp sit for at least 30 minutes to make sure all juices get through.
- Rinse the muslin well, then strain the mixture one more time through the double layer of muslin. This ensures that all tiny seed hairs are caught.
- Pour liquid into a clean saucepan and bring to a boil. Add sugar, stir well, and boil 5 minutes, or until sugar is dissolved and syrup has thickened.
- Pour into sterilized jar and seal jar. Allow to cool before storing in the refrigerator.
Use this like any other flavored syrup! Pour on pancakes, waffles, ice creams, make mixed drinks, pour into carbonated water for a homemade soda, use to flavor and sweeten tea, or anything else you can think of. Let me know in the comments if you come up with other ideas for using it!