Boost Your Immunity With Rose Hips

Rose hips contain lots of vitamin C and bioflavanoids, making them a super-healthy addition to winter cooking.

by Dawn Combs
PHOTO: Linda Owen/Flickr

Our house has been ground zero for the latest plague that’s going around. My son brought it home from school, and everyone but me has now taken a turn. With a wide variety of palettes to please with my homegrown medicine, I’ve been hard at work thinking of tasty ways to shore up the household immunity.

On our farm, we raise roses—we have more than 200 rose plants, in fact. Most of these roses are raised for their petals, but I raise one section of hedge strictly for their hips. I pass by this hedge on my daily walk, and it inspired my next immune-system-boosting idea.

Cooking With Rose Hips

Roses are in the apple family, which is never more apparent than when the fleshy fruit—the hips—appear. Just like apples, rose hips taste best after a few cold nights or even a light frost, as the cold sets the sweetness. While the plethora of tiny seeds inside make them a bit of a bear to eat, rest assured, they’re worth the trouble.

If you plan to use the hips for tea alone you can simply use the hips as is, seeds and all, but if you want to cook with them, separate the flesh from the seeds. Cut each tiny fruit open, and using a small spoon, scoop out the insides. Surrounding the tiny seeds you will find a nest of fine hairs, which can be irritating to the mouth and throat, so be thorough in removing them.

Kickstart Your Immune System

rose hips

Rose hips are high in vitamin C and, more importantly, bioflavonoids. This combination is particularly helpful in several ways:

  • strengthening the walls of our blood vessels
  • protecting against infection
  • improving liver function
  • decreasing blood cholesterol and the risk or heart disease

The high vitamin C is just what I need for my family right now. Rose hips can be made into jelly, reduced down to syrup, candied or added to recipes. They can be quite tart, but if you make sure to pick them when they’re at their sweetest, you can limit the sugar in your recipe.

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I’ll be picking my rose hips at the end of my daily walk today. The fruits are still red and glossy, but we have had more than a couple hard frosts. I would normally pick and dry them our food dehydrator, but this year, I’ve got other plans for them.

Recipe: High-C Cranberry Relish

On Thanksgiving I am usually responsible for the cranberries. I’ve made them in a number of ways—for some reason, I can’t resist experimenting with this side dish. This year, I’ve decided to soup up the already vitamin C-rich cranberry relish with rose hips to make a super shot of vitamin C.


  • 16-ounce bag of cranberries
  • 1 to 2 oranges, quartered with peel left on
  • 1/4 cup rose hips, de-seeded
  • 3/4 to 1 cup sugar


Process all ingredients in a food processor until evenly chopped. Don’t go overboard, as you want a bit of texture rather than a soupy mess. Start with one orange and 3/4 cup of sugar. Your orange will vary in sugar content and flavor. If the relish is too tart for your family’s tastes, add another orange or more sugar as you like. This relish is best if you make it a day ahead and chill it. The flavors will meld and make it even more delicious.

Your family will get a powerful immune boost at the Thanksgiving table, but be sure to make enough for leftovers. A spoonful of High-C Cranberry Relish at each meal is better than a pill or tincture and is a tasty way to get your family healthy this season.

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