PO Box 2458, Tijeras NM 87059

Mountain Gardens--finding success with plants for the high desert and East Mountains of New Mexico

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Rose Hip Syrup

Aly, and Wilbur and I spent an afternoon hiking over on Sandia. We gathered a little seed from the wafer ash and hawthorns, not much because the bears evidently beat us to the fruit. But to our delight, there were still a lot of hips on the wild woods roses. A few minutes yielded about four cups worth--enough to make up another wildcrafting recipe, without feeling guilty about depriving the bears and other critters up there trying to fatten for winter.

Making the syrup followed the same initial process as the oil; wash, stem, etc.  Then the hips went into the vitamix till they were as well ground as possible without becoming a purée. The mix was cooked over medium heat in a heavy bottomed pot with lots of sugar. The syrup didn't have much flavor, so I added a couple of teaspoons of cinnamon, a good call because it went from bland to delicious. In retrospect we may be taking a little bit more than a teaspoon a day! Gilly tried it in her coffee, and liked it very much, thank you. The syrup is recommended as a topping for oatmeal, a sweetener for tea--use your imagination.

Rose hips are high in vitamin C, everyone knows that! Did you know they are a significant source of minerals potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, phosphorus, and phytonutrients like quercitin, lycopene, galactolipids (?!), carotenoids, betasitosterol (!!!). Also high in vitamins A, K, E, niacin, folate, panthothenic acid, choline, and betaine. Then there's GOPO, isolated by researchers in Europe and being used to treat the pain of arthritis and other inflammatory conditions.  Hard not to get excited about an herbal application with so many uses, and virtually no side effects. It's been used for centuries to treat children's colds. And one researcher noted that even when the vitamin C breaks down, the other phytonutrients remain active.

There are a lot of recipes online, and all the ones in English are UK, which meant translating the measurements, further adapted because I had less than a kilo of hips. Loosely adapted (from jeremytaylor.eu), here's the recipe.

4 cups hips
6 cups sugar
2 cups water

Get everything ready and work quickly because vitamin C begins to break down quickly. Crush the hips in a blender with two cups water (other readers noted the hips can be rough on lesser blenders). Add the hips to about 7 1/2 cups boiling water. Bring back to boil, and immediately remove from heat. Let stand for 15 minutes. Strain through cheesecloth. Return strained hips to more boiling water (Recipe got a little vague here--guessed and used about three cups). The blogger suggested the hips could be boiled and strained three times, but I did it twice. Consolidate and measure syrup. Bring to boil again with sugar. Immediately remove from heat, and put up in sterile jars.

Other commenters used less sugar. One shared an old recipe that also used rose water. Most folks are using species roses. Rosa woodsii that I used for my syrup, is a native American. Rosa gallica, the apothecary rose, is European. Rosa canina, the European dog rose, is specifically being used for GOPO formulations.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Rose Hip Oil

I can't believe how long it's been since the last post--mea mea culpa. I will do better.

For those of you who bought one of our apothecary roses before we closed, here's something to do with those big rose hips. (I found the idea at wildcraftvita.com). 

This is the first good year of bloom for my rose so there was only about a cup of hips to pick (which I wasn't too sad about because this is a thorny rose!)  I stemmed both ends, and washed the fruit. I cut each in half (wouldn't have if there'd been more).
The original recipe used jojoba, olive, and wheat germ oils, but I tried it with my own favorites--coconut and castor oil. In the past, I discovered that wheat germ oil dried my skin, and olive oil's downside is that it goes rancid. Both coconut and castor are unbelievably stable. They can be kept outside the fridge without going rancid--both are anti microbial, no little bugs or viruses are going to grow in them (huge amount about their beneficial properties online if you're curious). Coconut oil is solid at temps below 76 degrees, but melts readily, in warm water or your hands. Castor oil can be drying, so I used less, but it's a transporter, and can carry nutrients deeper into the skin, so I wanted to use some.

 I used about 5 oz of the coconut oil, 1 oz of castor oil, and about one cup of rose hips. The mix needs to go into a heavy double boiler, and simmers for six to eight hours. The recipe said that pink drops of oil would appear floating in the mix when the seed gave up its oil--I didn't see this, but there was a wonderful fruity fragrance, like jam cooking, which persists in the finished product.

After eight hours, I cooled the mix, then strained it in cheesecloth. The yield fit into one of my (clean) brown glass vitamin bottles which will protect it from light. I'm going to find one with a wide mouth because I decided to go ahead and keep it in the fridge reasoning that hips are high in vitamin c which doesn't necessarily keep well. The coconut oil hardened up in the fridge despite the castor oil which actually makes it less messy (once I remelt it, and put it in that wide mouth jar). I slather it on my face and neck morning and night. Guessing it won't get rid of wrinkles, but my skin is happy--and the results equal what I saw using those unbelievably expensive commercial products--so my purse is happy too.

One reason I wanted to try this recipe was because I've been making a mix of coconut, castor, fresh aloe (which is a whole different animal from the processed), and powdered vitamin c--but even in tiny quantities, it goes off before I use it. Doesn't get rancid, but the aloe sours, so now I'm just rubbing a slice of aloe on my skin every day, again huge benefits. And the dissolved vitamin c still had a slightly gritty feel when I rubbed the oil in.

I saved some seed which is curing in the icebox with all the other seed that requires chilling. I like the apothecary rose so much, I want more. I'll also take some cuttings, but haven't had as much luck with those. Now, if I can just get the
photos to upload, They'll be on the Mountain Gardens Facebook page if not...