In Deathbed of Roses, Haley Maxwell finds Joyce Costello (the president of the Hell's Kitchen Community Garden) dead in her plot of rosebushes.
While most people choose the types of roses they plant based on color, fragrance—or how well they'll do in a particular environment—Joyce chose her roses according to their names—going for bushes named after people she admired—Gloria Steinem, Charles Darwin, Tina Turner, John F. Kennedy and Michelangelo.
Every autumn, she'd let Haley harvest the rose hips from her bushes. Rosehips are loaded with vitamin A and C, calcium and lycopene—an antioxidant. They're great for tea, jelly and can also be eaten raw.
Haley however, infused them in olive oil and used that to make her fabulous Bed of Roses soap—which she sold at The Hell's Kitchen Community Garden's Annual Perennial.
It's easy to make a rosehip infusion. And the oil—which will have a lovely citrusy smell when you're done—isn't limited to making soap. It can also be used as a moisturizer. It's great for dry winter legs.
Start out by drying some rosehips. A net bag works perfectly. Make sure you only use rosehips from roses that haven't been sprayed with pesticides or other harmful chemicals.
When they're partially dry, cut off the ends of the fruit—there're scratchy hairs in there that you don't want in your infusion.
The hairs are actually used to make itching powder. I suppose that could used to make an itching soap—but I'm not going there—at least not now—maybe in a future book.
You can also get rid of the hairs when the rosehips are freshly picked, but it's a little messy and you end up losing a lot of the juice.
Once the rosehips are completely dry (if they're not you could end up with mold and rancid oil) they're ready to be infused. You can leave them whole, but I like to grind them up—I like the texture the powder adds to soap. I use a coffee grinder that's sole purpose is for grinding herbs.
Note: You can also use rosehips to infuse vodka. I've never done this, but it's on my to-do list. You'd definitely want to keep your rosehips whole if you do this or if you plan to use plan to use the oil directly on your skin.
Pour your rosehips into a sterilized glass container. Mason jars are the traditional choice, but I use Snapple bottles since in the summer I drink a lot of it and they end up being free and plentiful.
Add enough olive oil to cover the rosehips, shake well and place the infusion in a cool area out of direct sunlight. Shake your infusion every day for the first two weeks, then you can slack off to every couple days for the next four weeks.
And that's it. After six weeks, you can strain the mixture and it's ready to use. The shelf life on it is about one year.
Stay tuned. I'll be posting Haley's recipe for Bed of Roses very soon.
Do you grow roses? What's your criteria for choosing them? Ever buy one based on its name?