One of the most abundant, nutrient-dense, healing, and beautiful foods of autumn, is the wild rosehip. Why is why over at Gather Victoria Patreon I’ve devoted an entire mini cookbook to the ruby red fruit of the family “pomme’. Once a staple in cuisines around the world, I find many people today aren’t quite sure how to cook with them -or just how versatile they can be in the kitchen. So I collected some of my favorite recipes inspired by the many culinary and medicinal traditions that once used rose hips both fresh and dried in practically everything from “vitamin teas”, health drinks, soups, sauces, compotes, jam, and marmalade to bread, cake, pies, cheesecakes, cookies, and pancakes.
In this post, I‘m going to share a hearty luscious recipe for Rose Hip and Chestnut Pancakes (slathered in rose hip syrup) I originally made for Masenlitsa, a spring festival during which feasting on golden pancakes was believed to revive the body and warm the frozen earth.
I decided to share it now because I think it also makes the perfect warming comfort dish to welcome the official arrival of autumn. And because you just might want to get out harvesting your rose hips earlier than usual!
According to conventional wisdom rose hips should be harvested after the first frost, which softens and sweetens the flesh but in Russia the rose hip harvest day Arina Shipovnitsa occurs much earlier. In Orthodox tradition, Arina Shipovnitsa takes place on October 1st but according to the old calendar, it began on September 18th and continued until the first frost. Slightly unripe rose hips gathered during this period were considered to be at their peak potency medicinally and nutritionally.
Russia’s colder climate likely explains the earlier harvest time of rosehip. Or does it? This research confirms that levels of vitamin C, flavonoids, carotenoids, and polyphenols were highest in the earlier ripening stages. As cold weather arrives nutrient levels begin to drop and degrade dramatically after the first frost.
Arina Shipovnitsa also refers to the flight of the cranes, and the rose hip harvest is linked with their migration to the south. According to modern tracking data, cranes begin their autumn migration on 23 September and end on 19 November. In the old traditions, people would watch for their departure and shout after them, wishing them a good journey and a speedy return. After the harvests, women and girls came together to relax, chat, sing, and cook.
This was when food preparation for the winter began, vegetables and cabbage were chopped, mushrooms were pickled, berries were made into jam and jellies, and fruit drinks were brewed. Rose hips would be dried and prepared for use in a variety of dishes and medicines, i.e. tinctures, extracts, and elixirs consumed during seasonal colds and to keep up health and vitality during the winter. You can find culinary & medicinal references for their many uses under Table 1 in this fascinating ethnobotanical article (as well as many other plants, herbs, and berries).
These old rose hip remedies were certainly on the right track. A single hip offers more Vitamin C than lemons or oranges, more beta-carotene than a carrot, more lycopene than tomatoes, and more antioxidants than over 3000 fruits, and vegetables. Countless studies show rose hips decrease overall systemic and chronic inflammation and are effective treatment of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, and even the common cold.
This makes these rose hip-filled pancakes practically a superfood. I’ve used dried rose hip powder in the pancake batter which gives them a mild slightly tart, slightly fruity flavor. Rose hip powder can be purchased at most herbal stores or online herbal suppliers. I do make my own from dried rose hips which have been chopped, cleaned, and de-seeded, then ground to a powder, but it takes forever, which is why often purchase additional rose hip powder. I use it a lot, adding it to bread, cakes, sauces, etc. for a hit of its nutritive power!
The pancakes also use chestnut flour which was inspired by the tradition of chestnut crepes in Italy. High in protein and a variety of beneficial nutrients, chestnut flour can be found at a wide variety of grocers today (and online) but if you can’t find it – just substitute all-purpose flour.
When it comes to harvesting wild rose hips just remember that all hips of the genus Rosa are edible. You’ll see them gleaming in dense thickets at the borders of fields, meadows, forest edges, and sea shores across temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. Many are so plentiful in both urban and rural environments they are classified as invasive weeds.
Identifying a rose hip is easy. First, look for roses on the bush. Many varieties will begin putting on hips while still in flower. Leaves are generally oval with serrated (jagged) edges and there will be thorns on the branches, some may be small, some may be large. After the rose sheds its petals, a seed pod forms known as the rose hip. It goes to green, to orange to bright red as the summer progresses. They differ in size, some small, some large, some round, some oval, but all wear a crown of five sepals at the bottom of the berry. (Some hybrids have deciduous sepals which means they will eventually fall off.)
The important thing to remember is that rosehip cannot be eaten whole. Inside the fleshy fruit are many, many seeds covered in tiny irritating hairs which need to be removed before eating or drying. For this syrup, we will use fresh whole rose hips but sieve them off after cooking with a finely woven cheesecloth (not the regular) or jelly bag to catch seeds and hairs.
So whether you harvest your rose hips before or after the frost, I hope you get out and enjoy one of the most beautiful and nutritious foods Mother Nature has on offer this season!
- 5 cups fresh rose hips
- 1½ cups granulated sugar (or honey)
- 2 teaspoons of lemon or orange zest
- 3 slices each of fresh or dehydrated lemons or oranges (with rinds on)
- one cinnamon stick, or a few cloves
- 2 tsp of cardamom seeds (or powder)
- 1 teaspoon rose water (optional)
- 2 tablespoons of brandy
1. Roughly chop your fresh rose hips. Add them to a large pot along with lemon/orange and spices. Cover with 4 cups of water. Bring the mixture to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes. Mash rose hips during the last 5 minutes of cooking to extract their juices. Allow to cool slightly before straining the cooked rose hips through a sieve set over a large measuring cup or bowl.
2. Take the resulting liquid and pour it through a finely textured cheesecloth, jelly bag, or coffee filter bag to clarify it even further. Add the clarified rose hip liquid, sugar, and rose water to a clean pot. Stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring the mixture to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes or until it reaches a thick syrupy consistency. Cool the syrup slightly before pouring in the brandy. Stir well. Store in the refrigerator and consume it within 6 weeks.
ROSE HIP & CHESTNUT PANCAKES
- ½ cup chestnut flour
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon of dried rosehip powder
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 3 large or 4 small eggs
- 3 tablespoons butter melted
- 1 ½ cups of milk (more if you want your pancakes more like a crepe)
- Pinch of salt
- Gently melt butter over low heat.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients: both of the flours, rose hip powder, sugar, and a pinch of salt.
- Add eggs to the top of the dry ingredients followed by the melted butter. Mix. Slowly pour in the milk, whisking continuously to avoid any lumps.
- Allow batter to rest for 1 hour. Heat the pan and add a knob of butter. When hot, pour the batter into the pan, and cook for a few minutes until top firms and bubbles begin to appear. Then flip to cook on the other side. Once the pancake is done, remove it to a large plate and allow it to cool slightly.
- Roll it up. Place in a large casserole dish and put in the oven at the lowest temperature to keep warm.
Once all your pancakes are done, remove them from the oven. Serve warm with plenty of rosehip syrup. Tasty tip: Pour a little syrup into some cream cheese & cream. Whip. Slather over pancakes. Doubly delicious.