ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Golf-ball sized and tomato-red, rose hips are everywhere these days – in overgrown alleyways, urban forests and backyards around Southcentral Alaska.
But while Alaskans often have a finely-honed autumn routine of harvesting raspberries, blueberries and cranberries, the edible fruit of wild roses remains mysterious to many, says Leslie Shallcross, a home economist and professor at UAF’s Cooperative Extension Service.
“People let the moose and birds eat them,” says Shallcross.
Rose hips are indeed an important winter food source for animals. But don’t let them have all the fun. Dried, candied and transformed into everything from soup to jelly to tea, edible rose hips are nutritious, abundant and delicious.
What they are:
During the summer, wild roses bloom with delicate pink petals. As autumn approaches and blooms fade, rose “hips” swell in their place, turning orange and then red. The ripe hips have a flavor not unlike apples. In places too cold to grow citrus fruit, rose hips are an important alternative vitamin C source. In Sweden, nyponsoppa, or rose hip soup, is an everyday classic that’s even available in instant mix form at supermarkets.