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Rosehips – one of autumn’s highlights

In autumn, rosehips glow scarlet in hedgerows and gardens. If you like foraging for wild food, why not try them – as long as you leave a fair share to help the birds through the winter, of course. You can use the flesh to flavour cakes and desserts, but also to make fruity sauces for meat and game. Or try a rosehip chutney with figs and quinces  it will make an extra-special gift at Christmas. Rosehips harmonize with apples and oranges in jams and jellies, and they also go well with spices like cloves, ginger and allspice.

Vitamin C content is second to none

The well-known Benedictine abbess, Hildegard von Bingen, knew that a rose hip tea strengthens the immune system and can help prevent colds. To make rose-hip tea, you’ll need dried rosehips, chopped up small, which you simmer in a little water for ten minutes or so and then pour through a sieve. If you have a sweet tooth, sweeten your rosehip tea with a little honey. Rosehips probably owe their health benefits to their very high vitamin C content; higher than lemons or sea buckthorn berries. The vitamin C content is generally between 400 and 5000 mg per 100 g, depending on the rose species and ripeness. Rosehips are also rich in B vitamins, provitamin A and minerals such as iron, magnesium and sodium. Pectin, tannins, essential oils and the red plant colour lycopene are also included. Lycopene is one of the antioxidants that protect the body from harmful free radicals.

Foraging and processing

Rosehips are the fruit of various species of rose, some like Rosa rugosa and the dog rose (Rosa canina) are bigger and redder than others. You’ll find them growing in hedges along pathways and forest edges, usually in full sunshine and humous-rich soil. You can pick rosehips while you’re out walking until well into November. The fruit is ripe when it comes away easily from the plant and the skin gives slightly when you press it gently. Processing rosehips is rather time-consuming, but the result is worth the effort. You need to trim off the stalk and blossom end and remove the seeds with their hairy covering. It’s best to wear gloves, as the hairs irritate the skin and mucous membranes. Mischievous children used to use it as “itching” powder. If you want to avoid all the effort, take a shortcut: simmer the fruit in a little water for a few minutes and then press the pulp through a fine sieve.

 

Source: Heike Kreutz, www.bzfe.de