Rose hips, the fruit the rose forms after flowering, contain a high level of vitamin C. Rose hips are used in teas, jams and other products. The rose hips form in the fall and are best harvested at that time. The exact timing of harvest varies with the local climate and conditions. The timing is more critical for rose hips planned for food use than those planned for decorative uses.
Spotting a blooming wild rose in the summer is easier than finding a bush with rose hips in the fall. Scout open meadows and the fringes of wooded areas for the blooming bushes in June or July, whenever they actively bloom in your area. This step is not necessary if you plan to harvest rose hips from cultivated plants.
Rose hips are commonly picked in the early fall of the year before seasonal frosts, although a killing frost may improve their flavour. Extension services in Vermont and Washington both suggest harvesting rose hips in August. Wait until the hips have formed and the hip begins to dry.
When It's too Late
Harvest the rose hips before insect damage occurs. Monitor the rose hips and leave the hips on the plant as long as possible to improve their flavour. If insects are noted, harvest the rose hips immediately.
Handling Rose Hips
Clip the rose hips from the stems, taking as little stem as possible. Place the rose hips in a single layer in a low-moisture environment to dry. If the rose hips were harvested before full maturity due to insects, cut the hips in half with a sharp knife and remove seeds from the interior with a sharp knife point. Dry rose hips used for decorations require no further processing.
Rose Hip Uses
A variety of teas and jellies use rose hips. A cup of rose hips is combined with 4 cups of rhubarb and sugar and water to make a rose hip and rhubarb jam. The rose hip jelly is made with 4 cups of rose hip juice, made by boiling the hips for one minute before skimming off the foam, added to sugar and pectin. The rose hip jelly contains vitamin C and is a recipe gathered by the University of Minnesota Extension Service from the Red Lake Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota.