Going back to those rose hips…
Most of us grow roses for the beautiful flowers. And those of us who have little interest in things wild may not even know that there is more to the wild rose than its fragrant flowers. A rambling shrub rose still looks beautiful when its flowers fade. The stunning brilliance of its fruit, the rose hips, is as arresting.
And the beauty of the rose is not skin deep either. We are all familiar with the culinary, medicinal, as well as cosmetic uses of the rose extract. There’s still more. The rose hip is one of the best sources of natural Vitamin C! Apparently, it has 20 times the vitamin C of most citrus fruits. It also has vitamins A, D and K, in addition to antioxidant flavonoids.
During Word War II when Britain faced a shortage of citrus fruits, rose hip syrup made with wild rose hips collected from hedge rows became an important supplement. In the days before the vitamin C pills, rose hips were also part of standard sailors’ rations.
All these qualities makes the pretty rose hips good candidates for a wonderful cup of tea!
But before they are tea material they need some processing. This is hard work. I had two kinds of rose hips–the long, orange kind (like chilli peppers!) and the round, deep red ones. The orange ones were easier to process because they were softer with less seed. The other ones were one tough fruit that took a lot more work. To prepare rose hips top and tail them, cut into half and remove the seeds and the hairy pith.
At his stage, depending on how much you love your time in the kitchen, you can either make them into a preserve, or dry them for later use. Rose hips have a citrus-y fragrance, and a tart yet sweet flavour.
I had too few to make a preserve (and I wasn’t quite up to jam-making that day, to tell the truth). I took the easy way out and sun dried them for tea later.
A horrible cold last week had me looking for all kinds of ways to imbibe warm liquids. I started my morning with a lemon tea (hot water, honey and fresh lime juice). Too many cups of regular black tea would have dehydrated me so I had some green Chinese tea as well. Not to forget the delicious Thai soup at (Berco’s, CP) with galangal, lemon grass, Kaffir Lime leaves, and fresh red chillies–that opened up the sinuses right away!
And then I remembered my dried rose hips. Their vitamin C boost was an added bonus. I steeped about a heaped teaspoon of chunky rose hips (you may use dried or fresh) into a cup of boiling water. After two minutes I sipped at the lemony-sweet saffron-coloured brew. Boiling the hips for 10 minutes (which would have softened the red rose hips as well) is what is recommended, but I thought my tea tasted just dandy. I even chomped on the tea ‘leaves’ at the bottom! They reminded me of dried cranberries!
Rose hips may be mixed with dried Hibiscus flowers to make a more colourful tea. And you already know what else you can do with the Hibiscus flowers, right?