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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Make Sure You Have Roses In Your Survival Garden

Over the past few months, busy with getting the homestead up and running with the addition of a couple of turkeys, some Cornish game hens, laying hens, and rabbits, not to mention keeping up with the garden, we have been discussing where we were going to put the rose garden. Yes, a rose garden. Well we just discovered we already have a wild rose garden. Yes wild roses that climb to about 10 feet tall. That is one chore we can check off our list as there is already one established and we can harvest the fruit this fall.

That’s right. All roses produce fruit. Rose flowers, like cherry flowers, mature into a sweet fleshy seed filled fruit after pollination. Even the modern carpet roses have fruit bred down to a scant pea size, but they are indeed still there. The reason that so few people recognize rose fruit is that we cut the flowers off before they have a chance to pollinate and form seed.

Rose fruits are called hips. Each kind of rose produces hips of a slightly different size and shape. Some, like rugosa roses, create hips shaped like pumpkins but the size of a shooter marble. Those of old-fashioned eglantine are more football shaped. Modern hybrid tea roses produce great big hips like rugosas but round like a basketball.

Rosa rugosa cultivars produce the fleshiest hips of all Hips start out green as the seed develops inside. With the short days and cold nights of autumn they ripen to bright red, orange or purple. The color tells you when it's ripe. A ripe hip will feel soft to the touch because it's composed of sugar-rich flesh that surrounds the seeds. Rose seeds are packed inside the flesh with a mass of hair like-fibers at the center. Nature's strategy is to lure wild animals to eat rose hips, then carry them far from the mother plant in their stomach. Eventually they are deposited elsewhere. Thus the species is distributed.

The flesh of the rose hip is one of the most vitamin rich foods in the world. Ounce for ounce, rose hip pulp contains more Vitamin C than citrus. Added to that is a medicine chest of beta carotene, bioflavinoids, calcium, citrates, citric acid, iron malates, malic acid, niacin, phosphorus and vitamins A, B1, B2, E, K. It's no wonder they've been adding rose hips to Vitamin C for years, and that virtually every culture in the northern hemisphere has used the fruit for medicine. Rose hip tea is a super cold-fighting drink.

Green rose hips are filled with developing seeds To lay in a store of rose hips at the end of your garden season, stop pruning the roses in late summer. This allows the last flush of bloom to pollinate and fruit with enough time to mature before the cold weather. It may not make your autumn roses look that great, but you'll get a much better harvest.

You can preserve your rose hips by freezing or by cooking up a good batch of rose hip jam. Rose hips contain a naturally high level of fruit pectin so you don't need store-bought pectin to make the rose hip jam. Rose hips can also be mixed into other fruit jams to enhance flavor and vitamin content.

It's important to wait until after the first good frost to harvest your rose hips. To make rose hip jam, first gather four cups of ripe hips in a basket and remove residual stems and the calix cleanly. Wash them thoroughly to remove any dust or bugs. Then boil them in four cups water with three tablespoons lemon juice for a half hour or until very soft. This breaks down the rose hip so you can separate out the seeds and fibers from the flesh.

Rose hips still on the dormant rose twig.Use a coarse sieve to press the boiled rose hips through to remove the seeds. Then use a finer sieve to separate the fibers. The result is pure rose hip flesh.

Return the juice and pulp to the boiling pan and stir in two cups of sugar. Bring to a boil, then simmer until it reaches 220 degrees. Turn off heat and ladle into sterilized canning jars.

Soon you can begin spot bright red wild rose hips in abandoned fields and hedgerows. Beware of gathering along roads where herbicides may have been used. If you are a gardener, why not taste that fruit you've so rigorously pruned away and discover the healthy rewards of letting your roses go to seed.


Anonymous said...

Great post. Always good to know what's edible and what's not.

Kentucky Preppers Network

Kymber said...

Lucky, lucky you - you already have an established wild rose bush! we have wild roses in our front yard and a bunch of fancy roses in the backyard left by the previous owner - rose hips are sooo packed with vitamins! this was a great post Pioneer Living!

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