Our friend Tashia Hart, (Red Lake Anishinaabe) Duluth Culinary ethnobotanist, has shared some of her recipes and stories for your enjoyment. This is the first of her three offerings.
“Itchy jiid” (pronounced ‘jeed,’ like ‘seed’) was one of the first references to wild edible plants I learned as a kid. Or, at least it was one of the most memorable, as it was always delivered by my father or one of his friends, accompanied by a snicker. We’ll return to that in a minute.
Now ‘jiid’ isn’t exactly a standalone word in the Anishinaabe language, but rather is spoken in terms of ‘his jiid’ or ‘her jiid’ or ‘their jiid.’ So to say ‘itchy jiid,’ is kind of slang usage. I’d never heard anyone outside of Red Lake call oginiig (oh-gin-eeg) this, but it wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized it must be somewhat of a localized term. It was my father who told me this name, ‘itchy jiid,’ and it was my mother who told me the name ‘rosehip.’
Growing up, my dad taught us about the plants around us in the environments of northern Minnesota. My mother is a bookworm who loves to read about medicinal plants from across the globe and put them into practice. For example, she would calm us with celery seed, numb sore teeth with clove buds, and made sure we were eating our veggies. It’s obvious to me now that their appreciation for the plant world was combined and seeded into my own. For this, I am grateful.
The rose is the focus of art, literature, music, festivities, food, medicine, and traditions spanning across continents and millennia.
If you work with rosehips, you will know that you don’t ingest the seeds, for they are covered in irritating hairs. If you happen to do so, let’s just say you can expect an itchy departure. My dad knew this and would instruct us to nibble around the middle where the seeds are if we wanted to eat the fruit. I always thought rosehips were like tiny, waxy, creamy apples, and loved finding them on our outdoor adventures. They were always firmer before the snow, and afterward, they would get mushier.
When dried and eaten plain—which is a feat characterized with a special kind of crunchiness—I think oginiig taste like tomatoes, but when you cook dried or fresh rosehips, they smell and, with a little sweetener, taste more like apples. It’s not surprising that ‘ogin,’ the Anishinaabe word for a rosehip, is also our word for a tomato.
According to the USDA, rosehips are an excellent source of vitamins C and A, as well as fiber, and contain manganese, magnesium, calcium, potassium, iron, and other vitamins and minerals. Some people believe that the rose can help revive a person from emotional numbness, depression, and revitalize a desire to live in the moment. I can attest to this effect.
A few years back, I was in the tail process of reviving myself from exactly such a state—a process that has taken decades to date—and I found myself in the Sioux Chef kitchen in Minneapolis, working with rose petals with my friend, and at the time kitchen manager, Andrea Weber. We gave the petals a bath in chilled water and added honey before putting them in a dehydrator. The smells from this entire process did indeed impress on me a desire to live more in charge of my own life—carpe diem—as they say. Working with the roses over those few days had an effect on me that I can still feel anytime I wish, by just remembering their smell and how beautiful their presence was. Anytime I have worked with roses since it’s been the same. It’s almost as if they are the essence of love itself, which when you’re in need of self-love, can be a powerfully moving and uplifting force. I find much gratitude working with plants, and the rose has a special, integrated role in my plant-memory-repository.
Rosehips and petals can be wild-harvested, cultivated, and purchased at some local health food or herbal stores.
½ cup rosehips (seeds removed)
¼ – ½ cup maple sugar
1 ½ cups water
Rose water (recipe below)
In a small saucepan, bring water and rosehips to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and let simmer until the rosehips begin to soften (about eight minutes). Uncover and simmer five minutes more (turn burner back up to medium heat). Stir. Add ¼ cup maple sugar and stir again. Allow mixture to simmer low, stirring occasionally until the rosehip sauce thickens and it is easy to blend most of the fruit bits fairly smooth. This can take 20-30 minutes. During this time, you can make your Rose Water.
½ cup rose petals
1 cup water
Boil water. Remove from heat, stir in rose petals and cover. Let sit at least five minutes. Stir, cover and let sit another five minutes. Petals should be a much lighter color and the water should be a rose color. Strain.
Turn off the heat. Whisk until sauce is as smooth as you can make it. Allow to cool just a little. You can now either blend your sauce in a food processor or strain out the bits through a fine mesh strainer. If you blend it, you will have a little more fiber in your sauce. It’s delicious either way. Whisk in your rose water and another ¼ c of maple sugar, if you want your sauce to be sweeter. You should end up with about 1 cup of rose sauce that has a color and consistency similar to barbecue sauce.
This sauce has a potent rose flavor and can be incorporated into many recipes.
Try marinating grilled meats and veggies with it, using it as a salad dressing, adding sparkling water to it to make wild-rose soda, spilling it on pancakes, blending it with other fruit sauces—the possibilities are endless—have fun exploring!
I recently put this sauce on some sweet potato corn pudding along with sliced strawberries.
Here is a basic recipe for that, if you’d like to try something similar.
-Sweet Potato Corn Pudding-
1 cup mashed sweet potato (can substitute pumpkin, applesauce or mashed bananas)
1 cup cornmeal
3 cups of water
Maple syrup or sugar to taste
2 tsp. salt
Boil water and salt in a medium-large pot. Reduce to medium heat and whisk in cornmeal slowly, stirring constantly until cornmeal is smooth. Simmer about seven minutes. Whisk in the sweet potato. Add sweetener to taste. Serve with rose sauce and berries.
If you’d like to learn more ways to incorporate rose into your diet, you can search for how to make some of these popular food and medicinal preparations:
Let’s Speak Ojibwe:
Ogin – a rosehip (also our word for tomato)
Oginii-waabigwan – a rose
Oginii-waabigwaniin – roses
Oginiiwaatig – a rose bush
*Language from The Ojibwe People’s Dictionary
by Tashia Hart
I saw that these were plentiful on the North side of Upper RedLake this winter–this would be a wonderful addition or possible grown plant for native food products. I’ll be coming up your way to work with Nate Taylor at the immersion school towards Spring.