Urban Harvest: Rose hips




You don’t have to live on a farm, or out in the country to take advantage of the fruit, herbs and vegetables that proliferate in almost all neighbourhoods in and around Toronto. Even plants that are grown for their decorative foliage and flowers yield a bounty year after year. Mulberries can be found on residential streets all over the city, and Concord grape vines decorate numerous patios, both commercial and residential. And as we found out recently, even crabapples are there for the picking, all it takes is a little bit of work. Okay, and maybe a ladder and a pair of pruning shears.


rosehips come in various sizes and colours

rosehips come in various sizes and colours


Rose bushes seem to be everywhere in our neighbourhood, and every autumn, after the last petals fall, the rosehips on the vines and bushes stick out like sore thumbs. Unless, of course, the rose has been pruned back to encourage growth, or the flowers themselves picked. Then there won’t be any rosehips. But if the gardener leaves the bush intact, so much the better for us; rosehips make great wine, tea, jellies and jams, pies and syrups; basically if you can do it to an apple you can do it to a rosehip! And, as they are in the same botanical family as the apple, have a similar tart flavor and a high vitamin C content.




If you plan on harvesting rosehips, make sure to find out if any pesticides were sprayed on the rosebush. If that’s the case, move on; do not pick them! The rosehips themselves may be as small as a blueberry or as large as a crabapple, with the colours ranging from orange to deep red. Many rosehip pickers suggest waiting until the first frost to pick them, as this concentrates the flavours in the fruit, the principle behind ice wine. Just don’t pick hips that are soft and withered or starting to brown, the rosehip should still be firm and appealing to look at.

One of the simplest ways to enjoy the fruits of your labours is to make a simple rosehip syrup. You can use this syrup to pour on ice cream, or to flavor cocktails, add to sparkling water for a refreshing sptitzer. Try brushing a little on your next pork roast, drizzling over a tart cheese or mixing a little into yogurt, the combination of sweet and sour, with both apple and floral notes just may become your go to secret ingredient this fall.

 Rosehip Syrup

2 cups of rosehips



Clean and trim the rosehips and put them in a food processor. Add water to cover half the fruit and pulse until the fruit is crushed and chunky but not a pureé. Place rosehip mash in a pot with another 2 cups water and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about fifteen minutes. Strain through a colander lined with cheesecloth for about half an hour. Pour the juice back into your pot, add another 2 cups of water and repeat the process; boil, simmer, and strain another half hour.

Now measure your juice, it will likely be about 21/5 to 3 cups. Return the juice to your pot and bring it up to medium. For every cup of juice whisk in ¾ cup of sugar. Let the juice simmer for ten minutes, stirring occasionally. Bring off the heat and let cool. Once cool, bottle it in mason jars or decorative bottles with tops-a maple syrup bottle would be perfect- and place in refrigerator.


English Rosehip Wine

English Rosehip Wine

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