Whoever discovers a cure for the common cold will be richer than Midas, if not richer than the guy who can instantly heal hangovers, but in the meantime we’ve got vitamin C. It just so happens that rosehips—the red, globular fruit of the rose—have vitamin C in spades.
Making your own rosehip syrup, whether for health reasons, to top a scoop of ice cream, or even add zing to a martini, is an easy and delicious way to enter the burgeoning world of wild food foraging, that new frontier for foodies, health nuts, and outdoors enthusiasts. Besides, it’s fun. After a few seasons of making your own, you’ll find that foraging rosehips is a calendar event, an annual mission that connects you to your landscape.
Look for rosehips wherever ornamental shrubbery plantings are in abundance. City parks, sidewalks, and lakeshores play host to many varieties of rose bush, while more rural areas support native species. Scout the patches in summer when the roses are in bloom, then return in fall to collect the fruit, usually marble to walnut-sized and a deep shade of red. They say hips are at their best after the first frost when the flavor and sweetness are most concentrated.
The recipe is simple. After rinsing, grind the hips in a food processor. Transfer contents to a saucepan, cover with water, and simmer for 30 minutes before running the resulting mush through a food mill or sieve to strain out the pulp. Return the strained juice to a pot and add sugar—or better yet, honey—to taste. Simmer until syrupy.
You can mix in other flavorings or herbal supplements such as cloves, cinnamon, or ginger—and voila: a Vitamin C Bomb to chase away the winter nasties. Mix into juice or water when you’re feeling low, or use the syrup for more gustatory purposes in desserts, sauces, jams, or cocktails.
Langdon Cook is the author of “Fat of the Land: Adventures of a 21st Century Forager” (Skipstone Press, 2009) and The Mushroom Hunters: On the Trail of an Underground America (Random House, 2013)