What Are Rose Hips? Exploring Their Uses and Culinary Potential
Image Credit: Rose Hips | Freepik

Roses are some of the most beautiful and beloved flowers that are often resembled as a sign of love and passion. For thousands of centuries, rose flowers have been used for ornamental purposes, floral arrangements, perfumes, medicines, and skin products. Beyond this, the flowers of rose plants have tons of different utilities in culinary applications. From decorating the dish to flavouring it, roses played a huge role in glorifying several dishes, and still continue to do so.

The beauty of the rose plant goes beyond its flower. These marvellous plants also bear luscious fruits that are equally delicious and possess several nutritional qualities. Yes, that's right! Fruit of the rose plant. Rose plant fruits or Rose hips are formed at the base of the flower after the flower has bloomed completely and the petals have fallen off. After this happens, the fertilised flower develops into a fruit, which eventually becomes the rose hip.

While the rose flower is the most visually striking part of the plant, its fruit has its own uses and significance. Let's take a deep dive into learning what rose hips actually are and how they can be utilised in cooking.

What Are Rose Hips?

Rose Hips or Gulab ke phal are fruits of rose plants that appear after the flower completely blooms and its petals have fallen off. After the complete fertilisation of the flower, its ovary begins to swell and develop into a fruit, which is commonly referred to as a rose hip. Rose hips are typically small and oval in shape. They vary in colour, ranging from red and orange, which are commonly seen, to dark purple or black, depending on the rose species.

Rose hips are edible and have been used in culinary applications for centuries. They have a tangy flavour and are rich in vitamin C, making them a popular choice for teas, jams, jellies, syrups, and herbal supplements. Rose hips are an interesting subject for foragers to explore in wildlife.

Uses Of Rose Hips

The use of rose hips dates back centuries. For a long time, they have been utilised for various purposes in different cultures. While it's quite difficult to pinpoint the first recorded use, some historical evidence suggests that rose hips were valued for their medicinal properties in ancient civilizations. 

One of the earliest recorded uses of rose hips comes from ancient China. There, rose hips were used in traditional Chinese medicine to address various health issues, including digestive problems and circulation. Similarly, ancient Greeks and Romans also recognized the medicinal properties of roses and their fruits. The Greek physician Pedanius Dioscorides, who lived in the first century AD, wrote about the therapeutic uses of rose hips in his renowned work "De Materia Medica." Dioscorides described the astringent properties of rose hips and recommended them for treating a range of ailments.

Moving on, in the Middle Ages, rose hips served a dual purpose, functioning as both a sweetmeat and a remedy for chest problems. Similar to this, Native Americans utilised the hips of indigenous roses for sustenance and medicinal applications.

Image Credit: Freepik

In the 17th century, a renowned English physician and herbalist Nicholas Culpepper extolled the medicinal virtues of rose hips, noting their pleasant acidity that strengthens the stomach, cools feverish heat, and provides respiratory benefits. Culpepper's insights into the therapeutic uses of rose hips were chronicled in his seminal work, the Complete Herbal.

During World War II, when citrus fruit supplies were disrupted, England turned to rose hips as a vitamin C-rich alternative. The hips were collected and transformed into syrup, a preventative measure against scurvy, particularly administered to children in the absence of traditional citrus sources.

And just like that, Rose hips made a huge contribution to both medicinal and culinary applications.

What To Make With Rose Hips?

When it comes to culinary applications, the versatile rose hips offer a spectrum of creative possibilities beyond their well-known medicinal uses. Rose Hips, in the present day, are utilised in making several kinds of citrus jams, dips, and spreads.  The tartness of the hips adds a distinct twist to traditional fruit preserves, creating a gourmet spread perfect for pairing with bread, crackers, or cheeses.

Along with this, the most popular usage of rose hips is brewing its tea. The fragrant and flavorful tea made out of rose hips is not only a delightful beverage but also carries potential health benefits.

The captivating journey of the rose plant extends far beyond its celebrated flowers. Include Rose Hips in the diet today and see for yourselves what benefits this small fruit has.