I love having so much greenery on our city balcony. It’s a touch of Mama Earth that also brings in lots of friendly visitors…. bees, spiders, chickadees, flickers, hummingbirds….
I no longer deadhead our single rose bush when it blooms… just a single flower two or three times a year…. Seems a shame to harvest this solitary rose hip though, as I can’t make much with a single hip! Most of the time, I just add it to my autumn altar. So, I’m on the prowl to forage some from local wild roses, but do have some purchased dried rose hips on standby, just in case!
Why? Starting late summer and early fall, I start infusing various botanicals in honey, such as rose, sage, thyme and hawthorn berries…. And rose hip honey — along with elderberry syrup — is a nice addition to my home apothecary cupboard, full of antioxidants and vitamin C. Sage honey and thyme honey are both great as a cough syrup. You can add to tea, salad dressings, spread on bread or a cracker… so many ways to use.
To wildcraft rose hip honey:
- Collect and thoroughly wash pesticide-free rose hips (best after the first frost)
- Clean and prepare your jars by sterilizing them in boiling water for about 10 minutes
- Slice the hips in half and remove the seeds. Wash again and pat dry.
- Fill a jar (jar size depends on how many hips you collected!) with hips, leaving about an inch at the top.
- Fill jar with raw organic honey (TIP: you could gently warm the honey first if very thick)
- Stir with a chopstick to ensure no air pockets and that the jar is full. Top up if necessary.
- Seal and label.
- Store in a cool place (preferably the fridge) for a couple of weeks… but do taste and check regularly. Some infusions can be used after a couple of days, and you do want to watch out for signs of fermentation!
- I prefer using raw unpasteurized honey. This is not for everyone, due to allergies, etc. Do your research first.
- The process above is basically the process you would use for infusing honey with any herb or berry
- You can also use purchased dried/cut rose hips. If so, fill the jar to roughly to the 1/3 or 1/2 mark with the hips instead of filling completely
- Some folks leave the botanicals in the honey, others strain it out… it’s a personal choice. If straining, you may have to warm gently to allow the honey to flow.
- Some folks prefer the rapid infusion process, using a slow cooker or stove-top pot to infuse the honey prior to canning. Remember that heat above 110F/43C can destroy the vital nutrients and enzymes in the honey. Herbalist Rosemary Gladstar suggests setting your slow cooker to no more than 100F / 37C.
Fresh rose hips release their water into the honey giving more of a syrupy consistency, which is why the shelf life is shorter and why many recommend storing in the fridge while infusing and for longer-term storage. And do watch for any signs of fermentation! Even though you have cleaned the hips first, some wild yeast spores may have lingered and you’ll have the start of mead!
One alternative to infused honey would be a rose hip syrup, by boiling the freshly chopped hips first, straining then simmering the liquid again and then one final straining with a cheesecloth or nut bag. Combine the liquid 50:50 with raw organic honey for a delicious and nutritious syrup. And you can play with the ratio — some folks like 2 parts liquid to 1 part honey. You can add other herbs or add spices such as chopped ginger.
If you follow a vegan diet, instead of honey you could choose to use a plant-based syrup such as agave.
ADDITIONAL RECIPE RESOURCES
There is a good basic rosehip syrup recipe at Eatweeds UK
The Mountain Rose Herbs blog also has a great Herbs for the Heart / Heart Be Well three-berry syrup (elderberry, hawthorn, rosehip) recipe that I’ll be making this week.
A method for infusing rose hip honey using a crockpot to speed up the infusing time can be found at the Herbal Prepper website. See the TIPS above for maximum temperature for honey, in order to preserve its vital nutrients.