In the 1930s, herbalists discovered vitamin C in fresh rose hips the cherry-sized, bright red fruits that remain after the rose petals have fallen off. Since then, scientists have found that rose hips also contain flavonoids, which increase the body's utilization of the vitamin. For these reasons, herbalists prescribe rose hips for colds and flu. Between 45 percent and 90 percent of the vitamin is lost, however, when the herb is dried. Beware when buying prepackaged rose hip teas, jams, extracts, purees and soups; while often consumed for their natural vitamin C, they may actually contain very small amounts of it.
Over the counter:
Rose hips are available as dried bulk and in tincture.
Infusion: 2 to 3 tsp. dried, chopped hips per cup of boiling water steeped for 10 minutes.
Jam: Hips collected after the first frost (any that have been sprayed with insecticide should not be used). Simmered in a heavy, stainless steel pan until tender, using 1 cup water to 1 lb. rose hips, and rubbed through a fine sieve. The pulp, and 1 lb. of heated sugar for each pound of pulp, then simmered until thick.