As you probably know, there are lots of foods that grow wild in Alaska. Probably the happiest find in the "wild foods" department for us has been rose hips. In my (ahem) former life as an urban housewife, roses were dead-headed when the blossoms faded, so there were no rose hips to speak of, but now I'll never dead-head another rose bush. The hips are too tasty and too versatile to waste.
While I haven't yet made the ever-popular rose hip jelly, I've made my fair share of rose hip tea and cookies. For tea, dry the rose hips whole for a couple of weeks until they're hard and wrinkly. Grind a tablespoon of the dried hips in your coffee or spice grinder, and then steep them in hot water for 5 minutes or more. Strain out the solids and enjoy the fruity-tasting hot tea with a little honey if you like.
Son's preferred use for rose hips is in rose hip cookies. Much like an old-fashioned cake-y gingerbread, they're lovely for dunking in coffee or tea. The recipe I use comes from the book "Collecting and Using Alaska's Wild Berries and Other Wild Products" published by the University of Alaska Fairbanks' Cooperative Extension Service. That is an excellent publication, by the way, and you can order it by clicking on the book title above. The illustrations in the book are covered by copyright, but the recipes do not appear to be. And so, here it is:
Rose Hip Cookies
2 1/2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups rose hip puree*
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup raisins, optional
1 cup nuts, optional
Sift together the dry ingredients. Set aside. Cream the sugar and shortening, add the eggs, rose hip puree, and lemon juice, and mix thoroughly. Add dry ingredients, raisins, and nuts, and mix well. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto a lightly oiled cookie sheet (I use parchment paper on the cookie sheet and skip the oiling). Bake 15 minutes at 400 degrees. Remove from cookie sheet and cool on wire rack.
I drizzled this batch with some melted white chocolate for a little bit of a change, but you don't have to. They're delicious the way they are.
* To make rose hip puree, combine 4 cups cleaned, soft, ripe rose hips with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Press through a sieve to remove seeds and skins. What does not go through the sieve can be simmered again by adding a little water to it. Press through the sieve again, and repeat the process until most of the fruit has gone through the sieve. Discard the seeds and skins. I freeze the puree in one and a half cup portions so whenever I want to make the cookies, all I need to do is thaw it and I'm ready to go.
Pictured are rose hip cookies and rose hip tea in a cup and saucer from Grandma A's collection.