Photo by Phil Hermanek
Now that fall has arrived, most plants be they vegetable, fruit or flower already have produced their yield and are withering away as winter approaches. However, there is one species of flora common to this area that keeps on giving during fall and into winter the rose.
Not only do wild rose shrubs produce abundant and fragrant blooms in early summer, they also produce hips that can be used in a variety of ways.
According to "Alaska's Wild Berries," a publication by the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Services, wild roses grow mainly in thickets on rocky slopes throughout Southcentral Alaska and beyond. Their penchant for spreading have made them common residents of many yards and stands of vegetation in towns, too, making for easily accessible picking.
Rose hips the smooth, roundish fruit that forms where the flowers leave off can be picked in the fall, preferably after the first frost. They can be harvested anytime from August through the winter, though it's best to pick them when they're soft and ripe, since sweetness corresponds with ripeness.
They can be dried, mashed, pureed, candied, squeezed and otherwise processed to be used in drinks, baked goods, spreads and more. The following processing tips are from "Alaska's Wild Berries."
Once picked, the hips' stems and blossom ends should be removed. Slit them down the side with the point of a knife and remove the seeds and especially the hairs surrounding the seeds, since they can cause intestinal irritation if eaten. Hips should be washed in cold water and set out to dry. From there they can be stored, covered, in a refrigerator for up to a week. For storage up to two years, hips can be spread out in one layer on a cookie sheet and frozen, then put in freezer bags or containers.
To dry rose hips, spread them on a tray in a well-ventilated room for a few days or in a 140 F oven for a few hours, until they are crisp and brittle.
For juice, only the stem and blossom ends need to be removed. Put six cups of hips and three cups of water in a saucepan, bring it to a boil and let it cook slowly for about 15 minutes. Pour the mixture into a jelly bag or cheesecloth in a colander and let it drip into a bowl. For clear juice, don't twist or press the bag. The juice can be frozen or canned for long-term storage.
To make puree, combine four cups of hips with the stem and blossom ends removed with two cups of water in a saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Press the mixture through a sieve to remove the seeds and skins. Repeat this process until most of the fruit has gone through the sieve. Puree can be frozen for long-term storage, but canning is not recommended.
The products of these processes can be used in the following recipes from "Alaska's Wild Berries."
Rose hip tea
Dried rose hips
Crush hips as fine as possible with a mortar and pestle or blender. Place approximately 1 tablespoon rose hip powder or pieces into a teapot. Fill with boiling water and steep for five minutes.
Rose hip syrup
4 cups rose hip juice
2 cups sugar
Combine ingredients in a saucepan. Boil for five minutes. Pour into a jar and store in the refrigerator. For long-term storage, can in sterilized canning jars.
Rose hip jelly
4 cups rose hip juice
1 package powdered pectin (1 3/4 ounces)
6 cups sugar
Combine juice and pectin in a large saucepan and stir until dissolved. Bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly, and stir in the sugar. Bring to a full boil that can't be stirred down and boil hard for one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and skim off foam. Can in sterilized canning jars following proper canning methods.
Rose hip bread
3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup water
2 cups rose hip puree
2 teaspoons baking soda
3 1/3 cups flour
Mix sugar, oil, eggs, spices and salt together. Add water, rose hip puree and baked soda. Gradually mix in the flour. Pour batter into two lightly oiled 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pans. Bake at 350 F for one hour or until a toothpick stuck in the center of a loaf comes out clean.
Rose hip cookies
2 1/2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups rose hip puree
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup raisins (optional)
1 cup nuts (optional)
Sift together dry ingredients and set aside. Cream the sugar and shortening, add eggs, rose hip puree and lemon juice and mix thoroughly. Add dry ingredients, raisins and nuts and mix well. Drop by tablespoons on a lightly oiled cookie sheet. Bake 15 minutes at 400 F. Cool on a wire rack.
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