Rose Hips – Harvesting, Preparation, and Use

Let me start out by saying that I have no experience in this area at all. This year has been the first time I’ve ever gathered rosehips, which means I’m not really sure what to do with them. So, I looked on the all-knowing Internet for more information and this is a summary of what I found:

But first a little background: Rosehips are the fruit of the rose plant. Every rose will produce fruit if you don’t cut the spent blooms, though the fruit will vary widely in size and palatability. The most popular roses grown for hips are Rugosa Roses (Rosa rugosa) and Dog Roses (Rosa canina). Rosehips are known for the high vitamin C content and were used during wars as a nutritional supplement.

Harvesting:

Rose hips are ripe when firm with a little give and bright orange or red in color (depends on the variety). Hips typically ripen late summer and fall and are the sweetest after first frost. To harvest hips, cut or pull them off the rose bushes. Be sure to harvest hips that are free from herbicides or pesticides and ask for permission before you enter and gather on private property.

Preparation:

Wash fresh hips and discard any that are shriveled, an off color, or have insect damage. Cut the hip in half and scoop out the seeds and hairs*. (Hips can be left whole if only using for tea.) Hips can then be dried in an oven, food dehydrator, or in the sun. Hips will be ready when hard, shriveled, and darker in color. Once dried, hips can be stored away from direct light in a sealed container for up to one year.

*The hair in the rose hips is an irritant to most people. Hairs can also be removed by grinding whole dried hips in a food processor then sieving.

Use:

Rose hips are most commonly used as ingredients in herbal teas and in jellies and syrups. Avoid using aluminum utensils or pans to prepare food with rose hips as it will deplete the vitamin C levels.

Wildcraft Vita has an interesting collection of rose hip recipes as does Recipes From the Wild. Since I haven’t actually tried anything with my rose hips I’ll just refer you to them.

Red rosehips drying

My meager harvest from this fall. I left them whole since I’m planning on using them for tea.

Places to purchase rose hips if you can’t (or don’t want to) collect your own.

Mountain Rose Herbs - Cut Rose HipsRose Hip Seed Oil (this oil is made from the seeds of roses and is a popular additive in beauty products.)

Bulk Herbs -  Cut Rose Hips

Sources

Herbal Academy of New England – Rose Hips: The Floral Superfood

The Practical Herbalist – Harvest Your Own Rose Hips

Robin Hartford’s Wild Food Guide to the Edible Plants of Britain – How to Dry & Store Rose Hips for Rose Hip Tea

Recipes from the Wild – Rose Hips

Backwoods Home – Gather rose hips for health

Lovely Greens – Foraging for Rosehips

Ginger Licorice Tisane

I know it’s not technically winter yet, but boy does it feel like it. If the weather forecasters are correct, tomorrow will be the first time in two years that I’ve seen snow. In an effort to combat the cold and keep my hands warm, I’m carrying around and drinking a lot of tea.

One of my favorite teas to drink is Yogi Ginger Tea. I like steeping it with a bag of Licorice tea, since licorice is supposed to help keep my blood pressure up and it makes the tea rather sweet. Having just completed a lesson on teas and tisanes in the Intermediate Herbalist course I decided to try to replicate the blend myself. After many cups of weird tasting tisanes I finally arrived at a drink that I liked. It’s not an exact replica by any means, but my favorite bits are still there (the spice of the ginger, the sweetness of the licorice, the light citrus notes from the lemongrass). Interestingly enough, when brewed on their own the only one of the ingredient I find pleasant is peppermint, but together they work well and balance each other out.

White tea mug with golden tisane

(Now, I’m lucky enough to have a grocery store (Natural Grocers) nearby that carries all the ingredients, but I know this is not the case for everyone so I’ve included links to buy the ingredients online.)

Ginger Licorice Tisane

6.5 parts Dried Ginger Root
5.5 parts Dried Licorice Root
1.5 parts Dried Peppermint Leaf
.5 parts Dried Lemongrass
.5 parts Crushed Black Pepper

Weigh out each ingredient (the parts are by weight) and mix well. I usually steep 1 TBSP of the mix per cup of almost boiling water for 10 minutes, which makes a decently strong tisane. If you find it too sweet or have problems with high blood pressure you may want to decrease the amount of licorice in the blend.

Sushi Fish Mug

Oh, just in case you were wondering about my awesome sushi fish mug, I found it at an asian market in Miami, but it’s also available on Amazon (isn’t everything?).

Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Programming (sort of….)

Life has finally started to settle down after two back-to-back moves. I am almost all unpacked, mostly organized, and am starting to get into a routine of sorts. I love the new place (it’s very quiet) and it’s nice being within driving distance of my parents again. As I’m sure you can guess, a lot has happened in the past few months so here’s a brief summary to get you up to speed.

Assorted plants in pots by a window

Plants – Only the grafted cactus didn’t make it to the new house. The combination of hot car, damp soil, and then cooler temperatures did it in. Everyone else is adjusting to the new latitudes quite well. The only new indoor plants I’ve acquired are oregano and basil, which are from cuttings I took of my mom’s garden. I’m currently trying to root begonia and sage cuttings as well.

There is a small portion of my yard here that I’m able to put landscaping in and I put in roses, lavender, and a mum (look for posts soon) last month. I hope I got them in the ground early enough that they survive the winter. I want to do more landscaping this spring, which gives me all winter to come up with ideas and plans.

Roses, Lavender, and Mum in garden

Etsy – Yikes. This got put on the back burner and forgotten about. Not really. I did an arts and crafts fair in September (shared a booth with my mom) to “test the water” and didn’t sell a single thing. I did get lots of good feedback (people were impressed with my items, but it was too warm to be buying knitwear) so it was an overall good experience. If I do craft fairs again, I’ll try the ones later in the year and see how it goes. I’ve also decided to take up weaving which, if I get proficient at it, may make its way into my shop inventory.

This week I hope to start writing up item descriptions for the actual Etsy shop. My goal is to have a few things listed by the end of the month. I think the reason it is taking me so long to get this done is that I want things to be perfect, but in reality if I wait for things to be perfect, I’ll never make any progress. So onward…

Food – I have decided that my goal for this fall is to get good at roasting chicken. It’s actually a fairly simple dish but looks impressive and has lots of leeway as far as flavors are concerned. So far the two biggest hurdles I’ve had to cross have been (1) getting over my discomfort with handling a raw chicken carcass and (2) learning how to carve a cooked chicken without mangling it. The next one is getting the cooking time down. Even when the meat reaches a safe temperature I end up having to put the chicken back in the oven to cook longer because the juices are still pink. I’ll figure it out eventually.

Here are a few of the links that I’ve found useful:

Basic Whole Roasted Chicken
Roast Chicken with Saffron and Lemons
How to Carve a Roast Chicken

Now it’s just practice, delicious, delicious practice.

Two trees with red leaves at dusk

Overall I have been feeling better since moving out of Florida. I mean, I’m still nowhere near 100% but my exercise tolerance and recovery times are much better. Right now my new-ish challenges are keeping warm (which I must figure out if I want to survive winter) and regaining my command of the English language. This past month I’ve been having aphasia like nobody’s business, which is only made worse by my mind replacing the words I’ve forgotten with cuss words, and my word order is a bit sketchy. I’m hoping it’s not as bad when I write as when I speak, otherwise we’ll be in for some interesting posts in the future.

Speaking of the future, I hope to get back to updating this blog regularly. I’m still planning on doing plant profiles but I’ll have to figure out something new to call them since I’m no longer in an apartment. Right now I’m taking the Herbal Academy of New England’s Intermediate Herbalist course, and I’ll be taking a soils class this spring, so some of that material may end up on here as well.

Hope you’re all having a wonderful November!

August Garden Update

Quite a few changes have occurred in my balcony garden this past month as I have started to prepare to move at the end of August. The tomatoes stopped producing fruit mid-July so I pulled those to free up their pots. The summer sun finally finished off the lemon balm, so that got pulled as well. I pulled the apple trees, which were becoming root bound, since I won’t be taking them with me and they weren’t going to produce edible apples (though I still felt really guilty for killing them).

Plants waiting for new homes.

Waiting for new homes.

The re-homing process for the rest of the plants started this past week, further reducing the actual number of plants in my apartment. A basil plant and three strawberries have already been placed, leaving one basil, an oregano, an English ivy, and two strawberry plants (if they survive) left. These all have homes lined up (actually the same home) and will be heading there sometime mid-August.

Getting rested for the trip!

Getting rested for the trip!

This leaves the plants I’m planning on taking with me. Right now there are six total, though I may have to reduce that number depending on space in the car. I’ll be bringing the Key lime tree, African violet, grafted cactus, Thanksgiving cactus, small English ivy, and rosemary plant. They are all doing well. My goal for the rest of August is to keep them healthy enough to survive the move.

In other plant-related news, about a week and a half ago (July 21st) my lime tree turned 1 year old! I can’t believe it! I celebrated its birthday by giving it its first pruning. I took out one of the two shoots growing upright and clipped a few thorns. The shoot was starting to hinder the other from growing evenly and multiple tree pruning websites assured me it was a good thing to do in the long run. The stem wasn’t exactly an insignificant part of the tree so I was worried that losing it would send the tree into shock, but it was a needless worry as the tree has grown about two inches since then.

Lime tree with pruned branch on floor

Lime’s first pruning

Anyways, August and September are slated to be super busy months so I’ll probably go to more sporadic posting. Hopefully when I come back in October I have some new plants to tell you about. Until then, have a wonderful few months!

 

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) – Plants in my Apartment


This will be the last post in the Plants in my Apartment series for a while as I have now profiled all the plants that have grown or are growing in my apartment. Any new posts in the series will occur when I acquire new plants.


Thyme is another popular herb from the Mediterranean region where it has been cultivated for a long time. Thyme was associated with bravery, strength, and protection from the time of the Romans, who believed that it could protect from poison, to the Middle Ages, where it was a common treatment for the plague. Though its antiseptic properties were not known at the time, it continued to be used to treat infections through the Victorian area. Today Thyme is a common ingredient in European cooking, and is added to breads, soups, stews, and roasts. It is often paired with lemon in cakes, salads, and on fish.

Thyme plant in a green pot

Growing Information

Size: Thyme typically grows to be 6 – 15 in (15 – 38 cm) tall and 18 – 24 in (45 – 60 cm) wide, although this can vary among varieties.

Water Requirements: Water thyme regularly allowing soil to dry between waterings.

Soil Requirements: Soil used to grow thyme should be well drained with a neutral (7.0) pH.

Light Requirements: Thyme does best in full sun.

Temperature Requirements: The temperature requirements vary among the different species of thymes. It typically does best in USDA zone 4 or warmer.

Nutrient Requirements: Thyme requires low levels of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium.

Pruning: Regular light pruning will keep thyme the happiest.

Pests: Spider mites and root rot can both plague thyme.

Companion Planting: Thyme makes a good companion for cabbage, eggplants, tomatoes, potatoes, and strawberries.

Growing Indoors: Thyme is an excellent plant to grow in containers. It needs a pot that is at least 6 in (15 cm) deep and can be root pruned if it becomes pot bound.

Harvesting and Use: Harvest leaves as needed throughout the year. Thyme can be dried, refrigerated, or frozen and is used to season meats, stews, vegetables, and sauces.

 

Sources

Bonnie Plants: Growing Thyme – General growing and some more detailed pruning information.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac: Thyme – General growing information in an easy to read format.

The Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide by Stephen Albert – If you haven’t gotten this book by now you really should. It has intelligently laid out growing information for the common vegetables, fruits, and herbs.

History Channel’s A Brief History of Thyme – Discusses the history and myths surrounding thyme.


More from the Plants in My Apartment series

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) – Plants in my Apartment

Rosemary is an herb that will always have a place in my garden no matter where I live. I absolutely love it in potato soup, socca, and lemonade.

Rosemary is native to the Mediterranean, especially the coastal areas where it has been used since the times of the Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians. A symbol of remembrance, happiness, loyalty, and love, rosemary has found its way into several Shakespeare plays, literature, and music (Scarborough Fair by Simon & Garfunkel anyone?). In addition to its culinary uses, rosemary can be used as a landscaping plant to make hedges and topiaries and in crafts. People make wreaths out of it and use it to create a yellow-green dye.

Rosemary Plant

Growing Information 

Size: 12 – 72 in (30 – 183 cm) tall and 12 – 24 in (30 – 60 cm) wide.

Water Requirements: Rosemary will do the best when the soil is kept slightly wet.

Soil Requirements: Prefers well-drained soil that is sandy or gravely and has a pH between 6 and 7.

Light Requirements: Rosemary likes full sun.

Temperature Requirements: Rosemary’s ideal growth areas are those that correspond with USDA zones 8-10 but it can be grown in colder climates if overwintered indoors.

Nutrient Requirements: All-purpose water-soluble fertilizer applied every two weeks is recommended for potted plants.

Pruning: Rosemary is well suited to hedges and topiaries. Yellowing or dead branches can be removed at any time, otherwise it is best to cut above the woody growth. Rosemary can be propagated from cuttings.

Pests: Rosemary is bothered by thrips, spider mites, and white flies. It can also suffer from root rot. Insects can be sprayed off with a hard stream of water or with a solution of 1 TBSP dish soap to 1 gallon of water if they’re stubborn.

Companion Planting: Rosemary is an excellent companion plant to cabbage, beans, carrots, and sage as it deters cabbage moths, bean beetles and carrot flies.

Growing Indoors: Rosemary does well in pots and containers. Containers should be be 6 – 8 inches (15 – 20 cm) deep. It can be grown indoors but will need a sunny window in a cool room, well-drained soil, and will benefit from misting regularly. If you live in a USDA zone 8 or colder it is a good idea to overwinter your rosemary indoors.

Harvesting and Use: It is best to harvest from well-established plants before they bloom (summer/early-fall). Rosemary can be used for cooking all types of meat and vegetables. Rosemary can be dried or frozen to preserve it.

 

Sources:

Bonnie Plants Growing Rosemary – Basic growing instructions

SF Gate: How to Grow Rosemary in a Container - General rosemary growing instructions.

The Herb Society of America Rosemary Fact Sheet – Growing instructions and interesting information about the Rosemary plant.

Fine Gardening Magazine: Rosemary Outdoors and In - Has instructions for propagating cuttings, information about growing in pots, overwintering and rosemary cultivars.

Golden Harvest Organics Companion Planting – Companion planting guide.

The Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide by Stephen Albert  – My favorite gardening book. As it says on the front cover it’s “a practical vegetable and herb garden encyclopedia”


 View other posts in the Plants in my Apartment series

Structure of a Flower

Time for another hand-drawn plant diagram. This week it’s a flower that’s missing some petals and sepals so we can see the inner parts. Not really sure why the flower turned out day-glo pink in the photo. It was supposed to be salmon. Oh well.

labeled diagram of flower structure

Pedicel – Flower stalk

Receptacle – Where other flower parts are attached.

Sepal – Modified leaves that protect flower buds. Sepals can be colorful.

Petals – Leaf-like structures that have pigments. Petals are important for attracting the correct pollinators.

Stamen – “Male” portion of a flower.

Filament – Stalk of the stamen.

Anther – Part of the stamen where anther is produced.

Carpel – “Female” portion of a flower (not labeled).

Stigma – Part of carpel that catches pollen grains.

Style – Part of the carpel that elevates stigma.

Ovary – Part of carpel that produces megaspores.

Pistil – Can refer to a single, or several fused carpels.

External Organization of a Plant Root

Last time it was shoots, this time it’s roots!

Diagram of a root tip with labels.

Root Tip – Region where root growth occurs.

Root Apical Meristem – Analogous to the shoot apical meristem (where growth occurs) except more orderly. Located at the tip of the root under the root cap.

Root Cap – A protective layer of cells around the root apical meristem.

Region of Elongation – Area behind root cap and meristem where cells undergo division and expansion.

Region of Maturation – Area where cells continue to differentiate.

Root Hairs – Narrow cells that increase root surface area allowing for greater soil penetration, release of carbon dioxide, and absorption of ions. These live for 4-5 days.

Lateral (Branching) Roots – Smaller roots (often numerous).

Red root tip of an orchid plant on a grey palm trunk

A root tip of an orchid (red part).