Rose Hips Foraging and 25+ Recipes (2024)

//byAnnie Bernauer//19 Comments

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Fall and winter are the perfect times to go foraging for rose hips. During this time, the leaves have fallen off the rose plants so the rose hips are easy to see. We harvested wild rose hips while out in the mountains and we also harvested rose hips from the domestic rose bushes on our property. They’re a free, all natural source of Vitamin C with so many different uses!

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Identifying Rose Hips

A rosehip is the fruit of the rose bush. After the rose bush is done blooming and the flower petals have fallen off, the rose hip is what is left hanging on the bush. Rose hips are easy to spot because of their lovely orange to red color. By late fall when nothing else is blooming and most other berries are long past harvest time, you can’t miss the brightly colored orange and red rose hips.

A rose hip is unique because of the shape of its bottom. It basically looks like a red berry with a few feathery wisps coming out the bottom.

Rose hips vary in size but average about 1/4″ to 1 1/4″. We noticed that the wild rose hips are smaller whereas the rose hips from the bushes on our property are noticeably larger. Here is a picture of the rose hips from the rose bushes on our property that were twice the size of the wild rose hips we harvested.

Harvesting Rose Hips

When harvesting rose hips, it is good idea to wearleathergloves. The wild rose bushes that grow out here in Montana have small thorns on the branches just like the domesticated rose bushes on our property. If you wear a pair of leather gloves it will help protect your fingers from getting pricked by thorns and also helps the picking go faster. I’ve read that it is best to wait until after the first frost to harvest rose hips. They are easy to remove from the plant but the most challenging part of foraging for them is picking them without getting pricked by a thorn!

Drying Rose Hips

Rose hips can easily be dried by letting them sit out for a week or two. I placed a dish towel on top of a metal cookie sheet then sat the cookie sheet in the mud room with all our boxes of green tomatoes that needed to ripen. I actually forgot about them so they sat out for a few weeks so were good and dry! At this point, you can easily remove any of the dried leafy wisps from the bottom. Then place them in a jar with a lid and store them out of direct sunlight.

Health Benefits of Rose Hips

The main reason I wanted to harvest rose hips was for the natural vitamin C content. During cold and flu season, I prefer to boost our family’s immune system by natural forms of Vitamin C rather than having to take a Vitamin C supplement. We use our homemade elderberry syrup but I also wanted to have other natural sources of Vitamin C to boost our immune systems. I’ve read that wild rose hips have a higher concentration of Vitamin C than domesticated rose bushes. Either way, they still have Vitamin C so we harvested both. According to our favoritewild edibles identification book, rose hips also contain vitamins A, B, E and K.

Learn More about Foraging for Rose Hips and Other Wild Edibles

If you’re interested in learning more about foraging for rose hips and other wild edibles, I highly recommend the Herbal Academy Botany & Wildcrafting Course. This course is online and self paced so you can take it anywhere, anytime that works for you and your schedule! I’ve taken several online courses through the Herbal Academy and love that I can access such high quality courses from our rural homestead.
Rose Hips Foraging and 25+ Recipes (6)

Recipes for Rose Hips

There are many uses for rose hips. One thing to note is that you shouldn’t eat them raw.

The book Edible and Medicinal Plants of the Rockies noted that “The dry inner seeds are not palatable and their sliver-like hairs can irritate the digestive tract and cause ‘itchy bum’. All members of the Rose family have cyanide-like compounds in their seeds, destroyed by drying and cooking.”

We’re hoping to harvest more rose hips throughout the winter so we’ll have enough to make more rosehip goodies!

What are your favorite ways to use rose hips?

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Rose Hips Foraging and 25+ Recipes (7)

About Annie Bernauer

Annie Bernauer is a certified Master Gardener and Master Naturalist. She enjoys writing about her family's adventures in modern day homesteading in Montana and helping others to learn these skills.

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Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Rose Hips Foraging and 25+ Recipes (20)Practical Parsimony

    Okay, I have wanted to use rose hips but cannot figure out what is usable. If I cannot use the seeds or the sliver-like hairs inside, what is there to use? No one seems to know. I have my eyes on some rose hip on public property, but really don’t want to take them unless I know how to use the hips.

    Reply

    • Rose Hips Foraging and 25+ Recipes (21)Montana Homesteader

      There are many ways to use rose hips with our without the inner seeds. You can use the rose hips whole in some of the recipes listed above in the post. The only time you need to remove the inner seeds is if you plan to use the rose hips chopped up. This basically leaves you with the sweet outer shell of the rose hip to use.

      Reply

  2. Rose Hips Foraging and 25+ Recipes (22)Kierstin

    I just planted some wild rose bushes in my yard this year and was so happy to get my first harvest of rose hips! I dare not try collecting them myself because I can get a rash from even “dormant” poison ivy. They’re currently sitting in a syrup, ready to be strained, to make rose hip soda!

    Reply

    • Rose Hips Foraging and 25+ Recipes (23)Montana Homesteader

      I bet the rose hip soda will be so delicious!

      Reply

  3. Rose Hips Foraging and 25+ Recipes (24)WendyJ a

    just curious about the tea, I have been told that boiling water kills vitamin C, is this just an urban legend or would hot but not quite boiling be better?

    • Rose Hips Foraging and 25+ Recipes (25)Montana Homesteader

      All my herbal/wild harvesting books say to pour boiling water on the rose hips to make tea which is why we make it that way. I haven’t heard about that killing the vit c.

      Reply

  4. Rose Hips Foraging and 25+ Recipes (26)Heather Jackson

    Very interesting! When I was pregnant with my youngest, I drank a hippie voodoo tea that included rose hips for vitamin C, but I’ve never thought to attempt to harvest my own! What a great way to make a supplement rather than just buying it! 🙂

    Reply

  5. Rose Hips Foraging and 25+ Recipes (27)Laurie

    I have this thing about planting and caring for plants that don’t give me something in return. So roses had basically been off my list of possibilities until the last year, when I began to learn about rose water and rose hips. A question I have is: Can you use any variety or are some better than others? You talk about the wild roses being better. Wild typically means “not planted intentionally”. Is there a variety of “wild” that you can purchase and raise domestically? Is there a variety which will give a better flavor/aroma in using the petals for water and the hips?

    Reply

    • Rose Hips Foraging and 25+ Recipes (28)Montana Homesteader

      I’ve also shifted to that way of thinking with the plants I care for in my flower and herb gardens. I can’t recommend a rose bush specifically since I think it depends on the region where you live. The wild rose bushes that grow here in Montana may not grow as well in a different climate. My identification books call the variety that grows out here “wild rose” but I have seen the wild rose shrubs for sale at greenhouses in town. My suggestion would be to visit a local greenhouse in your area and see if you can talk to someone about selecting a rose variety.

      Reply

    • Rose Hips Foraging and 25+ Recipes (29)ingrid

      Rugosa roses are wonderful for hips, and the petals are good for rose-petal recipes. The plants are tough and make a fantastic hedge.

      Reply

    • Rose Hips Foraging and 25+ Recipes (30)JM

      I don’t know if Nootka roses grow in the Rockies but they are a climbing rose that generates small pink roses with fabulous rose hips. You might check into them.
      Best of luck!

      Reply

  6. Rose Hips Foraging and 25+ Recipes (31)Heather

    I wouldn’t get that worried about the cyanide content of the seeds. You would have to eat more than anyone possibly could to get enough of it to hurt you. Many of our most common tree fruits are part of the rose family–apples, plums, peaches, apricots, nectarines, pears, etc. All the seeds have a minute amount of cyanide in them, but you can’t reasonably consume enough to hurt you by eating the seeds.

    Reply

  7. Rose Hips Foraging and 25+ Recipes (32)Kristine

    we love rose hips!!! The only danger of eating the seeds is that….according to my grandpa….they give you itchy butt. The fuzzy stuff on the seeds. Another great source of wild vitamin C is pine needles. Wash and make tea with them. Very tasty!!!

    Reply

  8. Rose Hips Foraging and 25+ Recipes (33)Meg Hhyde

    Interesting post. Thanks for letting us know how you use Rose Hips. I have been using Rose Hip seed oil on my face and I think it works as well as any expensive creams! Have you ever pressed the oil out of your seeds? I’d love to hear about that and how you avoid the cyanide!
    Thanks.
    Meg

    Reply

  9. Rose Hips Foraging and 25+ Recipes (34)Melonie

    If I pick the petals off of the roses, but leave the hips, can I go back in the fall and harvest the hips or does removing the petals hurt the hip in some way?

    Reply

    • Rose Hips Foraging and 25+ Recipes (35)Beth

      No, it doesn’t hurt them! I do this every year with almost every blossom on my wild roses, and have a bumper crop of rose hips this year. The only thing I would say is maybe leave the petals on for several hours to attract the pollinators before removing petals. I pick mine at roughly 7 in the evening so we get to enjoy their beauty for a full day 🙂

      Reply

  10. Rose Hips Foraging and 25+ Recipes (36)Tom Allen

    The link to “rose hip ketchup” leads to a web site in Japanese language.

    Reply

  11. Rose Hips Foraging and 25+ Recipes (37)Kitty

    Why is eating rose hips raw not recommended

    Reply

  12. Rose Hips Foraging and 25+ Recipes (38)Francesca Crandall

    Can I harvest rose hips in the summer? Or, do you have to wait till fall?

    Reply

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