Cooking with rose hips: Harvesting and using them in the kitchen

Is your garden filled with pretty-petaled roses? These beautiful, fragrant flowers produce “fruit” which can be used in so many recipes in the kitchen, from sweet-scented afternoon tea to delicious syrups for your breakfast pancakes. Let’s explore how to harvest these nutrient-packed rose hips and how to use them in your cooking! To learn how to harvest rose hips, jump to the bottom.

Rose hip recipes to try

What is a rose hip?

The rose hip, or fruit, of a rose bush, is a small, round seed pod that’s found just below the rose petals. Rose hips are small and usually red or orange, but can occasionally also be purple or black. The hips usually ripen in late summer or autumn. They’re a popular ingredient for desserts, jellies, and wines because of their sweet taste and vibrant colour.
To get a sense of the complex, deep taste of rose hips, start by brewing yourself a cup of rose hip tea. The delicate, floral flavour of rose hips makes anything it’s infused with slightly sweet with an earthy, tart aftertaste.

Form a budding romance with rose hip tea

Tea is one of the more common beverages one can include these seed pods in. You’ll need about 15 dried pods when making your tea with dried rose hips or around 8 fresh hips to embody that delicious flavour. 

  1. Start by placing dry or fresh hips in your favourite tea cup or tea strainer. 
  2. Add boiling water and allow the rose hips to steep for 15 minutes. 
  3. That’s it! After these simple steps, enjoy a cup or two to relax. 

For an elevated experience, add two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar and grated ginger – about 2 teaspoons – and allow the mixture to cool. This brew is perfect for those days when you’re feeling a bit under the weather. 

Rose hip tea with mint leaves combined with rose petals makes for a wonderfully refreshing and thirst-quenching summer drink.

Baked goods we love a bunch

The smell of freshly baked cake, doughnuts or cookies can send your senses into a frenzy. Partner this tantalising idea with the subtle flavour of rose hips and you have yourself a winning homemade recipe. 

Simply add your fresh or dried seed pods to any tea cake or muffin recipe. Hips are known to complement berries, oranges, apples, and many other fruits – creating the perfect fruity treat.

how to make rose hip jam

Sip, sip, hooray to rose hips

Trendy gins and vodka cocktails are on the menu for many of our festive season parties. Consider infusing the rose hips with clear alcohol to add that extra special tang. 

Rinse a handful of fresh seed pods and crush them with a rolling pin. 

Add them to a bottle of your preferred gin or vodka. It’s best to leave them in the alcohol for about two months. Once you’re ready to pour yourself a beverage, use a sieve to strain the alcohol and pour the liquid back into the bottle. 

Stir in your alcohol with the mix of your choice (we recommend pink tonic for gin cocktails, and cranberry juice for an out-of-this-world vodka drink).

Harvesting rose hips

It is common practice to deadhead roses (once they cease to bloom) to boost flower production, but letting them go to seed can give you the vitamin-rich fruit, to use in your kitchen.

Shop the equipment you’ll need below:

Let’s not beat around the (rose) bush: Your rose hip harvesting guide

Harvesting rose hips in late summer is ideal. You’ll notice the seed pods turn orange and red, indicating they are ripe and ready to be picked. If you see black rose hips, don’t be alarmed. These fruits are also ripe. Keep an eye on their size and feel, as well. Harvest those hips that appear large and firm.

  1. As the rose flowers bloom, the petals will begin to fall off, causing their hips to ripen and fatten. 
  2. Cut these flowers from the stem and remove the remaining pieces of flower from the rose hip, gently using your fingers to do so. Select the undamaged hips.
  3. Then, cut each of these fruits in half. 
  4. Seeds can irritate when ingested, so it is best to remove these. 
  5. A pair of scissors or a small spoon can be used to carefully remove the seeds from the pod.
  6. Now you can rinse the pods. They are ready to be used for your baking or other kitchen activities. 

Optional: Rose hips are healthiest when they’re fresh, but can last longer if you decide to let them dry out.

Which roses produce the best hips?

Almost all roses can set hips, but some types, like hybrid teas (like our Mister Lincoln roses or Just Joey roses) have so many petals that bees and other pollinating insects cannot reach the centre. 

However, shrub roses are rumoured to produce the most delicious and abundant hips. Leave some of your dying rose flowers, turning them into eye-catching hips. 

These are some of our favourite roses to have in the garden, and harvest hips from:

  • The rose ‘Avila Palace’ is an exceptionally beautiful garden rose that grows well in containers and big pots. The deep pink flowers will bloom continuously during summer to give you a beautiful show before their hips form. 
  • Our miniature roses in small pots are a beautiful addition to your balcony and patio. Keep them in a sunny spot to let them bloom and form hips repeatedly. 
  • Colourscape rose, Granny’s Delight, is a petunia pink rose from the Granny Rose Collection.

Iceberg roses are known for their vigorous and prolific growth, as well as their clusters of semi-double, pure white flowers that bloom for a considerable time.

roses with rose hips

Great for flavour, better for health

Some studies show that rose hips can help with health problems, like improved immunity, heart health, weight loss, and skin anti-ageing. Why are these small fruits so nutrient-dense?

The antioxidants in rose hips protect or reduce cell damage caused by molecules called free radicals.

Heart health is another benefit of its high antioxidant concentration.

Their high concentration of vitamin C plays many essential roles in building up your immune system.

The polyphenols and galactolipids found in rose hips have great anti-inflammatory effects and can alleviate pain.

We consider rose hips a wonderful gift from nature and a flavour-packed fruit to add to many of your recipes.

Need some help adding the brightest pops of colour to your garden?

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