Fabulous Fall Foraging: Rosa

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In case you haven’t noticed- Autumn is upon us!

For those herbalists an foragers among us, it’s time to get to work harvesting roots, seeds, berries, and fruit. The topic of today will be using Roses in medicine!

According to the book Backyard Medicine by Julie Bruton-seal & Matthew Seal, roses:
……contain plentiful vitamins and minerals, but it was only in the 1930s that research established that home-grown hips had twenty, even forty times more vitamin C than oranges, plus good supplies of vitamins A, B, and K.

And Healing Herbs by Diane Stein:
Rose Hips • (Rosa canina)

The haws or fruit of the dog rose bush or other rose species, high in vitamins C, E, K, beta-carotene, pectin, and bioflavonoids; used as tea for a highly absorbable, though relatively low, source of vitamin C; 3 ounces of dried rose hips contain 1,700 mg of vitamin C (easily taken in 1 or 2 tablets from the health food store), but actually a higher amount of vitamin C than in citrus juice; rose hips are often included in vitamin C formulas; used as an herbal aspirin (though does not contain salicin) for many of the same things aspirin is used for; effective for osteoarthritis, as an anti-inflammatory and pain reliever; reduces joint stiffness and promotes flexibility, especially for hips and knees; tones the vascular system, reduces cholesterol and blood pressure, may help prevent heart disease; diuretic, relieves water retention, flushes the kidneys, prevents cystitis and urinary tract infection symptoms, dissolves urinary gravel and kidney stones; aids digestion, reduces hunger cravings for weight loss, eases constipation, diarrhea, and dysentery; balances intestinal flora, balances the acid-alkaline balance of the body; clears the bronchial passages of congestion and mucus; use for colds, flu, sore throat, allergies; cools the body to reduce fever; helps prevent infections, boosts the immune system and thymus function, protects from cancer, protects from environmental pollutants; blood cleanser; also for headaches, dizziness, nervous tension, mastitis, uterine cramps; reduces menstrual flow, vaginal discharge; calms the fetus in the womb; used in skin preparations and cosmetics to stimulate collagen growth, speed wound and bruise healing, and soothe skin irritations, rashes, burns, eczema, and aging skin. Anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, astringent, diuretic. Considered extremely safe, even in pregnancy and nursing; possible rare side effects: headache, heartburn, nausea, or insomnia; no drug interactions or warnings.

That’g a lot of healing powers for one little plant.
But what species of roses are we talking about here? Dog roses, or R. canina are favored, although according to Backyard Medicine, all varieties of roses can be used medicinally.

Not to mention the spiritual uses, also from Backyard Community:

Take three roses, white, pink and red. Wear them next to your heart for three days. Steep them in wine for three days more, then give to your lover. When he drinks, he will be yours forever.
– traditional love-charm, Germany

Here’s a Recipe from Foraged Flavored by Tama Matsuoka and Eddy Leroux, which utilized the seasonal flavor of roses into a delicious:

Rose Petal Jam

This jam uses minimal cooking time to preserve the delicate texture and aroma of the rose petals. Our favorite way to enjoy this jam is to mix it with slivered almonds and a tablespoon of cornmeal to make a paste. We slather the paste on seared duck and serve extra on the side. The sweet floral taste of the wild rose petals is a perfect match for the fatty duck meat. Makes 3 cups

2½ ounces (3 cups) wild rose petals (from 1 grocery bagful of flower-laden branches)
1¾ cups sugar ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1 (1¾-ounce) package powdered pectin
1 tablespoon rosewater (optional)
1. Set a small plate in the freezer for testing the jam later. In a large pot, bring 2 cups water to a boil. Add the rose petals, turn off the heat, cover, and steep for 30 minutes or more.

2. Turn the heat back on to high and bring to a boil, adding the sugar ½ cup at a time, waiting for it to boil after each addition. Add the lemon juice.

3. Put the pectin in a heat-safe 1-cup measure and vigorously mix in a small amount of the hot liquid so that the pectin does not become lumpy. Pour the dissolved pectin mixture back into the pot and rapidly boil on high heat, stirring continuously, for 2 minutes. Check the consistency by dropping a teaspoon of the hot jelly onto the chilled plate and leaving it in the freezer for 10 seconds. When you run a finger through the gel on the plate it should form a trail or otherwise achieve the consistency you are looking for. If it does not, continue to boil for 2 more minutes. Remove from the heat. If you prefer a stronger rose taste, add the rosewater. Pour into glass jars and refrigerate.