Rose Hips: Nutritional Treasure of the Rose Bush

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Rose hips (Rosa canina) are the fruit of the rose bush prized for centuries as a nutritional treasure. These small, round, and brightly colored fruits are packed with nutrients and antioxidants, making them a popular addition to many foods and drinks. 

What is a Rose Hip?

A rose hip is a type of fruit that comes from the rose plant. They are also known as rose haw, rose hep, or dog rose. Rose hips are typically red or orange, although some varieties may be yellow or black.

Rose hips come from the wild rose native to Europe, Asia, and North America. They are commonly found in hedgerows, gardens, and parks. The fruits are typically harvested in late summer or early autumn after the rose petals have fallen off.

Rose hips are small, round, or oval-shaped fruits, typically around 1-2 centimeters in diameter. They are usually covered in fine hairs and have a slight, circular indentation at the base where the flower used to be attached. The fruit contains tiny, hard seeds surrounded by pulpy, sweet-tart flesh.

In terms of flavor, rose hips are generally tart and slightly sweet. They have a tangy, fruity taste similar to cranberries or sour cherries. The fruit’s flesh can be eaten raw, although it is more commonly used to make jams, jellies, syrups, and other sweet treats.

The History of Rose Hip Cultivation

Wild Rose hips are the fruit of the wild rose and can be found in many parts of the world, including the US, Europe, Britain, northwest Africa, and western Asia. 

In the past, people grew them in monasteries for their medicinal properties. Because of their high levels of vitamin C, they have been used since the 18th century to prevent scurvy. Sailors would store large containers of rose hips on their ships so they could use them as a supplement. 

Lastly, the rose hip was used by soldiers during World War 2 as a source of vitamin C when they couldn’t get citrus fruit.

What Does a Rose Hip Taste Like?

Rose hips have a tangy and slightly sweet flavor, with some describing it as slightly tart or sour. When eaten raw, they have a somewhat crunchy texture and a chewy exterior surrounding tiny, edible seeds. The flavor can vary slightly depending on the variety and ripeness.

When cooked, rose hips can make jams, jellies, syrups, teas, and other culinary creations. The flavor becomes more mellow and sweeter when cooked, and the texture softens. The taste can also be enhanced by adding sugar or other spices like cinnamon, cloves, or ginger to the recipe.

How to Tell When Rose Hips Are Ripe

Here’s how to tell when rose hips are ripe: 

ColorLook for a change in color from lighter orange or pink to a deeper red or red-orange, or even purple or black for some varieties. 
FirmnessSimilarly to avocados, make sure they are fully ripe but still firm; slightly soft to the touch is okay, but avoid harvesting any that are mushy, wrinkled, or damaged.
Wait for the First FrostThe best time to harvest them is after the first light frost, making them taste sweeter.

When shopping for rose hips, look for ones that are plump, firm, and brightly colored. Avoid any that are shriveled, soft, or moldy.

You can often find dried rose hips in health food stores or online. When buying dried, make sure they are deep red and have a slightly sweet smell.

What’s the Difference Between Rose Hips and Rose Petals?

Rose hips and rose petals come from the same plant but are different parts of the rose and offer other benefits.

Rose hips are the fruits of the rose plant and are formed after the flower has been pollinated. They are usually red or orange and look like small berries. Rose hips are rich in vitamin C, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids, known for their anti-inflammatory properties.

They are commonly used in teas, jams, and supplements to support immune health, improve skin elasticity, and reduce inflammation.

Rose petals, on the other hand, are the colorful, fragrant parts of the rose flower that surround the reproductive organs. They are commonly used in skincare and aromatherapy products for their moisturizing, soothing, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Rose petals also contain antioxidants and essential oils that can help reduce redness, inflammation, and skin irritation. They are also used in teas and culinary dishes for their pleasant flavor and aroma.

Are Rose Hips Safe to Consume?

Rose hips are generally safe to consume in moderation and have been used for centuries as a food and medicine. They are a rich source of vitamin C and other nutrients and have been traditionally used to boost immune function, improve digestion, and reduce inflammation.

However, as with any food or supplement, it is possible to have an adverse reaction to rose hips. Some people may experience gastrointestinal symptoms such as stomach cramps, nausea, diarrhea, or constipation when consuming large amounts of rose hips.

Additionally, those with allergies to plants in the rose family (such as roses, strawberries, and apples) may be more likely to experience an allergic reaction to rose hips.

It is also important to note that certain forms of rose hips, such as rose hip tea, may contain high levels of oxalates, which can contribute to kidney stone formation in susceptible individuals.

Cooking with Rose Hips

Preparing rose hips:

  1. Harvest the rose hips when ripe, usually in late summer or early fall.
  2. Cut off the stem and blossom ends of the fruit.
  3. Cut the fruit in half and scoop out the seed

Cooking with rose hips:

  • Dried rose hips can be brewed into herbal tea or used in infusions.
  • Fresh rose hips can be used in jams, jellies, sauces, and syrups.
  • Rose hips can be a flavoring agent in baked goods, such as cakes and muffins.
  • Rose hips are also used in traditional cuisines, such as Scandinavian, British, and Middle Eastern.
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Swedish Rose Hip Soup

Here are a few examples of dishes that use rose hips:

Rose Hip Jam: This sweet, tangy jam is made from fresh rose hips, oranges, and apples. It can be served on toast or as a topping for yogurt or ice cream.

Rose Hip Soup: A traditional Swedish soup with rose hips being the star of the show. It is typically served cold and can be served with toast, cottage chees, or even next to some biscotti or ice cream.

Rose Hip Syrup with honey: A versatile syrup that can be used as a topping for pancakes, waffles, or ice cream. It is made from fresh rose hips, sugar, and water.

Myrtle Berry and Rosehip Candies: If you want a cooking challenge, this candy recipe is just what you need to make your rose hip stand out.

How to Store Rose Hips

Rose hips can be stored in various ways to preserve freshness and flavor. Here are some storage techniques and their expected shelf life:

Refrigeration: Rose hips can be stored in the refrigerator for six months. Place them in a plastic bag and remove as much air as possible before sealing.

Freezing: Freezing rose hips is an excellent way to store them for up to a year. Put them in an airtight container or freezer bag and store them in the freezer.

Drying: Spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet and dry them in an oven or dehydrator set to 110 F until completely dry. Once dry, store them in an airtight jar in a cool, dry place. Dried rose hips can last up to two years.

Canning: One way to utilize rose hips is by cooking them to obtain juice for making jams and jellies. The juice can be strained and employed immediately or frozen for up to one year.

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Rose hip jam is an excellent way of preserving the fruit.

Nutritional Benefits of Rose Hips

Rose hips have many health benefits, primarily due to their high vitamin C and E content, carotenoids, flavonoids, and other antioxidants. Its main benefit is that it can lower cholesterol and blood pressure, while rosehip extract can reduce pain in osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

The Vitamin C in rose hips can help protect against infections, promote collagen synthesis, prevent wrinkles, protect against cell damage, helps relieve joint pain (mainly thanks to polyphenols and anthocyanins), and prevent cartilage damage. The bioflavonoids in rose hip also contribute to proper vitamin C absorption.

Rose hips also contain vitamin A, essential for eye health, immune function, and skin health. Together with fatty acids, omega-3 and omega-6, it helps reduce scarring, pigmentation, and inflammation.

Lastly, rose hip had selenium, which is hard to come by if you’re on a raw diet.

Consuming too much of it can cause side effects like diarrhea and stomach upset.

Where to Purchase Rose Hips

Rose hips are readily available in most grocery stores, health food stores, and online marketplaces that sell natural foods and supplements. You can also find rose hips in specialty tea shops, herbal stores, and farmers’ markets during fall and winter.

The best time to find fresh rose hips is typically in the late summer and early fall, as the fruits ripen and are harvested. However, dried rose hips are available year-round and can be used for various purposes, including teas, jams, and supplements.

When purchasing rose hips, looking for organic and non-GMO options is essential to ensure you get the highest quality product. You can also choose between whole rose hips, used in teas and other recipes, or rose hip powder, often used as a supplement.


Alexandra is a passionate writer who reveres exploring exotic fruit from far-off lands. While she’d like to one day live in a tropical paradise, she reserves that for her palate for now: from the tartness of the tamarind to the sweetness of the mangosteen. She invites others to join her on this journey of discovery, where every fruit is a new adventure.

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