Lessons in Living a French Life

Bringing a touch of French culture to everyday life

Your Weekly Voilà: French Flavor for September: Rosehips 😊🌹💗
Autumn is in the air. One of the first signs is that my roses are finishing their last bloom and the rosehips are turning bright red. While roses grow in gardens and wild in many places in the world, I associate rosehips with France. It was here that I tasted my first rosehip jelly on a fresh, warm baguette. Sweet and tangy at the same time. It's a personal favorite.

If you don't have roses in your own garden, you might ask a friend if you can harvest their hips in trade for some syrup or a vial of oil. With a bit of foraging, you might also find some wild roses nearby. Ideally, wait until after the first frost to pick, when the hips are soft to the touch and at their sweetest. Be sure to gather only those that have not been sprayed with harmful chemicals. They can be eaten raw but avoid the seeds with their little irritating hairs in the center. I often dry rosehips for tea. Or, I express its goodness by warming them with a carrier oil. Lastly, I process rosehips fresh for jellies and syrups. All are easy techniques to do.
Rosehips are an exceptional healing fruit. They are packed with vitamin C, E, A and K. Beneficial properties help in treating infections such as respiratory and sinus issues. Rosehips can boost your immune system and reduce cold and flu symptoms. They aid in reducing inflammation and ease the digestive tract and help with bloating. Topically, rosehip oil nourishes the skin and helps with fine lines and wrinkles. The list of healthful properties goes on and on.

To make the most of its benefits, process your rosehips shortly after picking. Wash them and cut off the stems and blossoms. You can cut the large hips in half and remove the seeds. I find this tedious so I leave them whole. I dry them in a low temperature oven to remove all the moisture. You don't want the hips to mold when stored for later use. An airtight jar in the pantry should do the trick.

You can also simmer the washed rose hips in water for 15 minutes, cover and allow to steep for 24 hours before straining through a cheesecloth. Use this liquid immediately to make jelly or syrup. Finally, you can freeze rosehips whole and process within one year.
One of the easiest ways to prepare rosehips is to make a simple tea from 1 teaspoon dried rosehips per 1 cup of water. Bruise the hips with a mortar and pestle and add to the water in a small pot. Bring the tea to a boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Strain through a fine cloth or tea filter. You do not want to drink any of the fine hairs from the seeds. I like to sweeten with a bit of honey. Note: If you use fresh rosehips, double the amount and don't expect a red color unless you are harvesting late into November. No matter. I can vouch that the first picking in September tastes fresh and delicious.
You can find rosehip oil in many natural skincare products. Known for its rejuvenating properties and treatment for age spots and fine lines, it's a good thing to add to your skincare regime. And it's easy to make.

asically, you need rosehips and a carrier oil of your choice such as almond, fractionated coconut, jojoba, or even a quality olive oil. Select one that works well for your complexion. You can use either fresh or dried rosehips. If you don't have access to rosehips, you can usually find dried at your local health food store.

Using a mortar and pestle if you have one or a hammer and a plastic bag if you don't, bruise the rosehips. Use approximately a 1:2 ration. So 1/2 cup of hips to 1 cup oil. I take a small sterilized jar and fill it 1/2 way full of washed and mashed rosehips. Add the oil to the top. Since rosehips are sensitive to light, it's best not to place them in the sun to extract the properties. Rather, put the oil and rosehips into a ceramic or glass ovenproof pan and allow to warm in the oven at the lowest setting for 8-12 hours. You could also use a slow cooker for this process. Remove and allow the oil to cool. Strain well into a sterilized jar. I add a bit of vegetable glycerine, vitamin E, frankincense, and ylang ylang essential oils to my rosehip oil. It's a personal preference.

Keep your prepared oil in the refrigerator to increase its shelf life to 1 year or store in a dark pantry for 6 months. Be sure to decant a bit of this precious oil into small, dark bottles with a dropper and give as gifts.
When making rosehip jelly or jam, you can make adjustments to suit your own taste. If you like it lemony, add more lemon juice. I tend toward less sugar because I like the subtle flavor of the rosehips. You do need a lot of hips. So make one batch in the fall when you are ready to do a big harvest.

I have to address those little hairy rose seeds again. You definitely don't want to ingest them because they are itchy and irritating. But I find removing the seeds from the hips takes more time than preparing the jelly or jam. I have done it both ways and find that since I pass my rosehip liquid through a very fine mesh, the seeds and hairs are strained out before I process the jelly. Also, no aluminum or cast iron when you are working with rosehips. Stick to stainless steel or non-reactive ceramic cookware.

Rose Hip Jelly
6 cups rose hips
4 cups water
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 large lemon, juiced
1 packet pectin

I found that both in France and Germany, you find sugar specific to making confiture. It has the pectin already included.

1. Wash and remove the stems and blossom ends of the rosehips. Cover with 4 cups water in a stainless steel pot and simmer for 1 hour or until the hips are soft and easily mashed. (You can use a food mill or a potato masher.) You can also simmer for 15 minutes, remove from heat, cover, and allow the liquid to sit for 24 hours.

2. Strain the liquid. A jelly bag is ideal, but a combination of strainers and cheesecloth will get the job done. I use a food mill for the first pass and then line a fine mesh strainer with a double layer of cheesecloth. Squeeze out the juice from the mash with your hands to remove any remaining liquid. You'll have approximately 2 cups of juice.

3. Return the liquid to the pot. Add sugar, lemon juice, and pectin and bring to a boil. Allow it to boil for a few minutes while stirring. Remove from heat, skim off any foam, and immediately ladle into sterilized jars. You'll need 3-4 8 oz. jars.

4. Secure lids and process jars in hot bath for 10 minutes.

If you want to make rosehip syrup to top yogurt, ice cream, or pancakes, roughly follow the same recipe as above. Use 1 cup of sugar to 2 cups of juice. I omit the pectin but I do add the lemon juice.  Simmer for 20 minutes or until the mixture is reduced to a lovely syrup consistency. Decant into sterilized jars.
Homemade body scrubs, tinctures, soaps, even a rosehip pie, these little beauties are too amazing to be relegated to the fall compost heap. Search them out. Again, be sure they have not been sprayed with chemicals. Wash them and if nothing else, fill a ziplock bag and put them into the freezer until the spirit moves you.

One last thing . . . When you are harvesting, leave the low ones. I learned that rosehips are an important winter food source for door mice.

Enjoy the cooler temperatures of September.

À bientôt mon amie,