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.
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.
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.
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.
Places to purchase rose hips if you can’t (or don’t want to) collect your own.
Bulk Herbs – Cut Rose Hips
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