Sunday, August 17, 2008

Hip, Hip, Hooray!

Remember back to your health and nutrition classes in school, when you learned about vitamins and minerals and the main sources of them all?

Remember what food you were told was a great source of vitamin C?

Well, of course, you do. Between those classes and excellent marketing, we all associate orange juice (and, all right, other citrus fruits) with vitamin C. Go to the head of the class!

But citrus fruits don't grow abundantly in northern Ohio (though I've seen them in hothouses). And even though I bend the locavore rules in winter to enjoy fresh oranges, I also know that there are other sources of vitamin C that do grow abundantly here in the north.

And at the top of that list, you will find rose hips.

Would you believe that these small fruits have many times the amount of vitamin C that oranges do? One of my herbal books indicates a twentyfold increase in the amount of vitamin C -- pretty impressive!

I've enjoyed cooking with rose petals in the past, but the bushes I harvested those petals from did not produce plump hips once the flowers had withered. Not every variety of rose does, but those that do are easily identified from the brilliant orange-red bulbous growths on the stems once the flowering season has past.

The Sheep Lady brought some such rose hips to the market yesterday, and as soon as I spotted them, I knew I had to buy her out. I've used dried rose hips in herbal tea during the winter to boost my stores of vitamin C, and finding a local source for them made me ecstatic.

So this morning I pulled out the bag of rose hips and trimmed the blossom ends (and some large stem ends) before cutting the hips into quarters. While rose hips can and often are dried whole, I didn't know how moist they would be inside and thus how long it would take to dry them.

Once I had a parchment-covered baking sheet loaded with all the rose hips, I slid the pan into the oven and set the temperature at the lowest setting (170 F for me). And on I went into the day's activities.

By evening, though, the hips seemed dry enough to remove from the oven, so I pulled them out to cool. One of my herbal books indicates that the hips should then be crushed with a rolling pin and sifted to remove the little hairs found on and in the hips. (So I'm not done yet.)

From the looks of things, I should be able to brew a good number of vitamin-rich brews! And if I like, I might even make a syrup from some of the fruit for homemade cough medicine.

And that, in my book, gives me plenty of reason to cheer.

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At 8/19/2008 12:09 AM, Anonymous Janet said...

I have a big ungainly rose bush that's got hips. I recall reading somewhere not to harvest them until after frost, and I was planning to do so, but your post puts me in a quandry. Drat. I guess I'll have to do more research. Interesting to see their innards!

At 8/19/2008 7:20 AM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

Checking my herbal books, they seemed to indicate harvesting the hips in the fall... no mention of frost. Maybe you could do half and half?

Yeah, I had no idea they were so seedy!!!


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