A Wild Fall Fruit: Rosehips (Rosa canina, Rosa rugosa and related species)

By Steph Zabel
Herbalist, Ethnobotanist and Educator

Photo by Rosendahl via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Rosendahl via Wikimedia Commons

The Rose family (Rosaceae) is one of the most beloved botanical groups; humans have had a deep affinity for these plants for thousands and thousands of years. Not only does this family produce beautiful flowering plants such as spirea, potentilla, lady’s mantle, agrimony and hawthorn, but also important fruit crops such as pears, peaches, plums, cherries, quinces, almonds, raspberries and strawberries. What would our world be like without these delights?!

Of all these family members, Rose is the most well-known and sought-after. She is the true queen of flowers.

Photo by Renee Ricciardi via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Renee Ricciardi via Wikimedia Commons

While most people are familiar with the aesthetic and olfactory beauty of the rose, in this country there tends to be less familiarity with the fruit of the rose, i.e. the rosehip.

I adore using rosehips this time of year, when the scarlet fruits become full and ripe. All roses will develop hips once their flowers fade, but depending on the species they vary in shape, color, texture and taste. The hip of the dog rose, Rosa canina, is often sold commercially for tea. Around our neck of the woods we are lucky to find Rosa rugosa, the beach rose, which produces the most beautiful, large, tomato-like fruits.

So why would we want to use rosehips?

First of all, these fruits are a delicious wild edible. They are nutritive and tart, and can be infused into a tea that is high in many vitamins, especially Vitamins A and C. Even though citrus fruits get all the glory for being a great source of Vitamin C, rosehips actually contain a higher concentration of this important vitamin and are in fact one of the richest botanical sources of it.

We cannot produce our own Vitamin C so it is essential that we obtain it from food. It is needed for producing hormones, neurotransmitters and hormones in the body. Having plenty of this vitamin in the diet has been correlated with a reduced risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. In addition, Vitamin C supports the immune system and has been shown to shorten the duration of the common cold. This makes rosehips an excellent addition to fall and winter tea blends.

Photo by Oceancetaceen via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Oceancetaceen via Wikimedia Commons

Like other red-hued herbs and fruits such as schisandra, hawthorn, and hibiscus, rosehips are high in bioflavonoids which have an antioxidant action that prevents free radical damage in the body. These bioflavonoids also strengthen heart and blood vessels.

Perhaps a lesser known use of rosehips are its effect on the digestive system. The hips are anti-inflammatory and soothing, and so are useful for hot, inflammatory conditions in the gut such as ulcers, colitis or Crohn’s. They are also a gentle laxative that is traditionally used for mild constipation; the natural pectin content has a beneficial, soothing effect on the intestinal tract.

Above all, rosehips are a food. They are commonly harvested to be made into jams and jellys; they can also be baked into pies, used as a thickener for sauces (because of their pectin content), and can even be made into a beautiful soup! (Check out this Swedish rosehip soup recipe I discovered!

Photo by Steph Zabel

Photo by Steph Zabel

HOW TO USE ROSEHIPS

  • Infusion: use 1 tsp. of dried rosehips per cup of hot water. Let steep 10-15 minutes.
  • You can also decoct rosehips to make a darker, stronger brew but you will lose much of the Vitamin C content with boiling.
  • Freshly gathered rosehips can also be made into jam or jelly.
  • Blends nicely with other herbs for a subtle, tart flavor. Try blending with holy basil, mint, lavender and/or lemon balm.

MAKING AN OXYMEL

The combination of honey, vinegar and herbs creates an ancient preparation called an oxymel. This simple medicine dates back to the time of the Greeks and has been used for many different ailments, but most especially for digestive and respiratory issues. Today we can make oxymels as a delicious way to preserve our favorite herbs, or to create a medicinal tonic.

The simplest method of making an oxymel is to mix together equal parts honey and apple cider vinegar and pour this mixture over your herbs to steep. (Use more vinegar for a thinner oxymel, less vinegar for a more syrup-y oxymel.)

Photo by Steph Zabel

Photo by Steph Zabel

ROSEHIP OXYMEL RECIPE:

  • Fill a pint sized jar 1/3 full of dried rosehips or 1/2 full of fresh, chopped rosehips.
  • Cover with a vinegar/honey mixture (start with a 1:1 ratio of vinegar: honey).
  • Stir it up to remove air bubbles and cover the top of the jar with a sheet of wax paper before capping if using a metal lid. (Or use a plastic lid to avoid corrosion from the vinegar.)
  • Shake those hips! Really… Shake the jar often to make sure the herb does not clump together. Add more vinegar if necessary.
  • Let infuse for 2 – 6 weeks. Then strain out using a cheesecloth and store in a tightly capped bottle out of direct sunlight.

Use this tart honey-vinegar concoction directly by the spoonful, or add to seltzer water for a refreshing drink. You can also use it as the base for sauces, marinades and salad dressings.

REFERENCES

http://www.botanical-online.com/vitamincproperties.htm
http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/vitamins/vitamin-C
http://www.sacredearth.com/ethnobotany/plantprofiles/rose.php
http://www.vegetarian-nutrition.info/herbs/rose-hips.php
 

Steph Zabel, MSc, is an herbalist and educator who helps urban dwellers connect with the plant world.  She teaches herbal classes, is available for individual wellness consultations, and is also the founder of HERBSTALK, Boston’s community herbal conference.  Learn more about her work at: www.flowerfolkherbs.com and www.herbstalk.org.

*The next Herbstalk event is the Wintergreen Herbal Market taking place on November 26th at the Armory in Somerville! More details can be found here.


This blog series — Herbs and Botanicals— is for general health information only. This Web site is not to be used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any health condition or problem. Users of this Web site should not rely on information provided on this Web site for their own health problems. Any questions regarding your own health should be addressed to your own physician or other healthcare provider.

Monthly Muse: Gianne Doherty

Photos courtesy OBC

Photos courtesy OBC

By Mary, Body Care Buyer and Blog Contributor

You may have noticed some new things around the store lately. New faces, new sales, and most exciting of all: NEW PRODUCTS! We recently stocked some of the shelves in our body care department with a line we’ve been eager to share with our customers.

Organic Bath Co. is owned by Gianne Doherty, a Medford resident, natural skin care aficionado, and all around wonderful human being. We now carry the OBC body scrubs, body wash, and body butters in both full and travel size. Each product comes in a variety of scents, using only organic essential oils, to suit any preference. Not only are you supporting a local company with each OBC purchase, you’re also supporting a bigger cause. With each and every purchase, 1% is donated to charity. As Gianne says, “true beauty begins with giving back.” But Gianne’s accomplishments don’t stop there. She is also the founder of W.E.L.L. Summit, an annual event bringing together and empowering the wellness community. Read on to learn more about Gianne, her work, and how all of this got started.

CN: What is your favorite place of thing to do in the Boston area?

GD: We just spent Sunday walking around and exploring different neighborhoods in Boston, sat on the Esplanade and I loved it! It doesn’t cost a thing, the people watching was great and I found myself seeing the same places with new eyes. The exercise I got from walking off and on for 3 hours was an added bonus! :-)

CN: What was the last book you read that you couldn’t put down?

GD: Ohh, I am a voracious reader and read a few books a week. The last book I read that I couldn’t put down was Natchez Burning by Greg Iles.  I love mysteries!

Photos courtesy OBC

Photos courtesy OBC

CN: Can you tell us about how Organic Bath Company got started?

GD: A  few years ago, when my skin began reacting (by way of hives!) to mainstream lotions I had been using, my boyfriend Jay and I ended up making a pure, unscented, shea butter-based body butter for me that my skin still loves to this day. As I learned more about the personal care industry and its lack of regulation, the more determined I was to make safe products for myself and family and friends. Organic Bath Co. began out of necessity with that shea butter-based body butter (now known as “Drenched”), and we’ve donated a portion of our proceeds to charity since day one!  

CN: What inspired you to found the W.E.L.L. Summit and where do you envision it going in the future?

GD: The W. E. L. L. Summit was created through conversations with our customers, friends & family. We are constantly asked for advice about questions that are often a bit outside of our scope such as: What natural deodorants should we use? Why should our products contain essential oils and not fragrance? Etc. Ultimately, we recognized that there was a need in our community and a larger community to bring the best of the wellness industry together in a space of empowerment and learning for all!  

CN: We love that OBC donates 1% of each purchase to those in need! Which organizations are you currently working with?

GD: We donate to Charity Water which we love because they build wells and provides access to clean water across the globe to others who may not have had it. What's amazing is that 100% of the donations go to funding the water projects.

Photos courtesy OBC

Photos courtesy OBC

CN:  What are your top three essential products from Cambridge Naturals?

GD: This is a hard question because I can and have spent hours browsing Cambridge Naturals shelves. I LOVE that there is something for everyone and all aspects of your life... from beauty, home, gifts & to your kitchen. We always pick up a few packets of 2 Dogs Treats for our dog Bruschi. The tea selection is fantastic and you carry my favorite, Rishi Tea. My sweet tooth demands that I pick up some bars of Taza Chocolate or some [Apotheker's] Mallows. YUM.

Thank you so much to Gianne for taking the time to share her story with us. W.E.L.L. Summit will be taking place next month in New York City on October 21-22. If you’re interested in learning more about this year’s speakers or attending, visit www.wellsummit.org. Let us know in the comments what your favorite Organic Bath Co. product is!

Brenden's Boosted Coffee with Gaia's Golden Milk

Many of you have heard of Bulletproof® coffee... now try our grocery manager Brenden's version using Gaia's Golden Milk powder**! Golden Milk traditionally contains turmeric and black pepper, and Gaia has incorporated the ayurvedic adaptogen Ashwaganda, which helps to balance healthy levels of stress and energy, as well as supporting the whole body immune system. To sweeten and add a hint of aromatic spice, Gaia includes Vanilla, Cardamom and Date powder (also traditionally used in ayurveda). Perfect to add to any warm beverage - including a cup of coffee! Read on for the full recipe...

Gray Hair, Don’t Care

While we have some excellent and effective natural hair dye kits, a rising number of mature and younger women are choosing to let their gray roots grow and their silver locks show. And, it’s hard to find great information on how to manage and even enhance your natural greys - most Google searches result in tips on how to darken, color or hide them! Below, some tips for unleashing those sterling strands and letting them shine...

COMFREY (Symphytum officinale): A healer of wounds, bruises and bones

By Steph Zabel
Herbalist, Ethnobotanist and Educator

September’s herb is a bit different than all of our past monthly plant profiles. This month we focus on the great green healer, comfrey. But, unlike all the other plants we’ve covered here, comfrey is meant for external use only, rather than for taking internally. (And I’ll explain why as we go along.)

Perhaps you’ve seen this lush, leafy plant growing in a garden, or even alongside the edge of a forest, where it has escaped cultivation and is happily growing in the partial shade. If you walk along the Somerville bike path you are sure to see some half-wild comfrey growing along the edges. In the summertime you’ll notice it’s lovely violet-hued flowers which are born on a spiral-shaped stalk and hang downwards like small bells.

Making Tacos with Seoul

Fermented foods are definitely having a moment, these days. It turns out that these techniques, used by our ancestors since time immemorial to preserve food, produce the very types of healthy probiotic bacteria that we in the modern age know to be essential for good gut health. In turning back to these techniques, we're also rediscovering something else our ancestors knew quite well: fermented foods taste incredible!

Another major trend in the food world right now is east/west fusion, which collides in happy harmony with the fermentation craze in the form of the mighty Korean Taco! This increasingly popular LA street food is making some major in-roads here on the east coast, with not one but two new spots serving them up on Brighton Ave in trendy Allston. Is kimchi the new pico? Bulgogi the new carnitas? Only time will tell, but we here at Cambridge Naturals would like to share some ideas with you about how to bring this taco trend to your table in a vegan, gluten-free manner which is both nutritious and delicious.

Bitters 101

By Mary, CN Blog Contributor and digestive health enthusiast

Remember when your parents would give you a dropper full of digestive bitters before dinner when you were a kid? Neither do I. But Guido Masé, chief herbalist at Urban Moonshine, sure does and he and the UM team are steadily bringing this long forgotten tradition back.

A group of us recently had a chance to meet Guido and the rest of the Urban Moonshine team, including founder Jovial King, for an amazing dinner and training session in Boston. While we shared edamame and rosé with our new friends, we learned exactly how bitters work and why they’ve been a focal point for the brand since its inception.