rose hips

Beverages

Rose Hip Tea: A Vitamin Rich Drink

My childhood memories of snacking on rose hips, the only berries around in winter, are that they were a delightful trail nibble, with a texture like raisins. It would be decades before I understood that rose hips are a free source of vitamins and a versatile wild food source.

After the wild roses have lost their blossoms, the bright red berries, called rose hips, can be harvested fresh in autumn or dried, actually freeze dried in winter. Rose hips contain more Vitamin C than citrus, and are also rich in Vitamins A, D and E.

                        Rose hips naturally freeze dried by winter

                        Rose hips naturally freeze dried by winter

The fine hairs and seeds in fresh rose hips are not only an unpleasant texture, but it can also irritate the mouth. I wait for Nature to do the work of freeze drying rose hips. One night of below freezing temperatures turns rose hips into a delicious wild food. This is another situation where knowing when to harvest is the difference between having fun and doing chores. The easiest way to enjoy winter gathered rose hips, besides simply snacking on them, is to make tea.

One note about cooking with rose hips: I only use cast iron cookware, but if I had aluminum pots, I would not use them to prepare rose hips, because aluminum destroys the Vitamin C.

When it comes to any kind of berry, different individual bushes produce different tasting fruit. When I find a rose bush with wonderful tasting rose hips, I'll harvest the berries from that bush. Once home, put a pot or kettle of water on the stove and clean any twigs or other items from the the rose hips. When the water comes to a boil, remove it from the heat. Use 2 teaspoons of dried rose hip per cup of boiling water and steep for 10 to 15 minutes. After making tea, push the rose hip pulp through a strainer, add olive oil or butter and enjoy as a side dish.

Timeline
1-2 Hours Before:
Harvest rose hips
20 Minutes Before
Put water on to boil
Clean and sort rose hips, removing any stems.
15 Minutes Before:
Remove water from heat and steep rose hips
Serve

Shopping List
Foraged items:
Dried rose hips two teaspoons per cup of tea
Pantry:                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Honey, sugar or other sweetener for tea
Olive oil or butter for side dish
Pot or kettle to boil water
Strainer

Yes, You Can Find Yummy Wild Edibles in Winter

Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but once the snow, sleet and freezing rain passes and the winds die down, it's time to head out for pine needles, birch bark and rose hips. Some foraged foods are meant to be
harvested in winter.

One advantage of learning how the plants look in all seasons is that you know just where to go when it's time to harvest.

                            Pine needles are rich in Vitamin C.

                            Pine needles are rich in Vitamin C.

Pine needles, the mature leaves of the pine tree, are very high in Vitamin C. They so familiar and accessible that we tend to walk right by them without really paying attention to them. All you need is a handful of pine needles, gathered nearest the trunk, where they are highest in Vitamin C. Making pine needle tea is as easy as boiling water.

                              Beautiful, icy rose hips in winter.

                              Beautiful, icy rose hips in winter.

Rose hips are the seeds of the wild roses have lost their blossoms, the bright red berries, are actually quite palatable after a night below freezing temperatures. I like rose hip tea best, but rose hips can be found in other recipes.

I do not know why the liquid created from the inner bark of the birch tree is called "beer." But common names are typically confusing. Winter is the only time to harvest the flavorful cambium, the layer between the inner bark and the wood, for a delicious beverage.

The technique for harvesting the cambium and preparing this beverage are easy, but you need to follow the procedure to ensure you do not harm the birch tree. This tree is easy to identify even without its leaves, because it has the distinct smell of wintergreen. Birch tree branches that have been broken during a storm are the easiest to harvest. You want a branch that is roughly as thick around as two fingers.  Use a paring knife or your pocket knife to shave the bark. Hold the knife at an angle when you do this and you will be able to see three layers. The outer layer is thin, like paper, the inner layer is the hard wood, and the middle layer is soft and easy to scrape. The soft middle layer, called cambium, is what you will use to make this beverage.

                                                                                                        Birch beer shavings.

                                                                                                        Birch beer shavings.

Winter is the the most challenging time of year to forage for plants. Our ancestors needed a large supply of stored food and remarkable hunting skills to survive winter. Maybe that is why my foraging soul finds pine needles, rose hips and birch bark so precious.