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Rose hips ripen in late summer to early fall, depending on where you live. All rose hips are edible, as long as they haven't been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides, but we prefer working with larger hips. It takes time to harvest a few cups of small rose hips, but with larger hips, like those of the rugosa rose (Rosa rugosa) or the dog rose (Rosa canina), you can easily gather two cups in under five minutes.
Ripe rose hips may be red or orange, and should be harvested when they're plump and firm, with just a little give to them when you squeeze. You may hear that rose hips will be sweeter if picked after a frost, but you run the risk of them drying, shrivelling, or rotting if you wait. Since we're going to be sweetening this syrup, we're not worried about the fruit being sweet enough.
Gather two cups of hips for this recipe, then head back to the kitchen.
Rinse your rose hips and twist off the dried calyx (the thing that looks like a star attached to one end of the rose hip). Put the rose hips in your blender and add enough water to halfway cover the hips.
Pulse your blender to roughly chop the rose hips. You're not trying to purée them, just break them up to open the fruit and let the juices out.
Transfer the chopped rose hips to a sauté pan and add two cups of water.
Bring the rose hips to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for five minutes. If there are any hips that didn't get chopped, mash them with a potato masher. After five minutes, turn off the heat and let the rose hips sit for fifteen minutes.
Pour the hips into a jelly bag and let the juice drain for thirty minutes. Then, return the hips to the sauté pan and add another two cups of water. Repeat the simmering/draining process as described above.
Don't squeeze the jelly bag as the juice is draining, or your syrup may be cloudy. When you've finished draining the juice, strain it through a fine mesh strainer to remove any seeds or hairs that may have snuck through the jelly bag.
Measure your strained juice and for every cup of juice, add 3/4 cups sugar. From 2 cups of rose hips, we ended up with 3 cups of juice and added 2 1/4 cups of sugar.
Whisk together the sugar and the juice over medium heat. If the liquid starts to boil, reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for five minutes, then remove from the heat and allow it to cool.
Pour the cooled syrup into pretty glass bottles and refrigerate. Refrigerated syrup will last for several months. If you want a longer shelf life for your syrup, pour your syrup into canning jars with two part lids and process in a boiling water bath for ten minutes. Canned syrup will last up to a year.
Health benefits of Rose Hips:
Diuretic and laxative
Treats skin ailments
Aids immune system
Dr. Axe on Rose Hips: