It’s that time of year again. Wild rose bushes are starting to become weighed down with delicious, juicy, red rose hips. It’s time to make rose hip syrup.
Rose hips are the fruit of the rose plant. They vary in colour from orange to red through to dark red and even purple – and in shape from the oval shaped berries in the bowl above to plump, round fruits that look like cherry tomatoes.
The ones I use seem to be the most common ones here in Monmouthshire and they’re from the dog rose, which grows wild in hedgerows and along verges. They have all sorts of culinary uses from jam, jelly and syrup to pies, breads and sauces. They can also be eaten raw, although enormous care must be taken to remove the tiny hairs from inside the fruit as they are a very unpleasant irritant (so much so, that they used to be used to make itching powder).
You do not have to worry about removing the hairs when making syrup as they will be contained within the muslin, preventing them from getting into the syrup.
A vitamin C booster
Rose hips contain 20 times more Vitamin C than oranges. When supplies of oranges dwindled during World War 2, many school children picked rose hips, which were then turned into rosehip syrup. This delectable, sweet syrup was then administered each day as a vitamin C booster, directly from a teaspoon.
A spoonful a day keeps the doctor away
Rosehips produce their berries much later than many other plants and you can still find them well into November. Don’t forget to leave some on the bush as the birds rely on them in winter!
(Remember, when you’re foraging you must be certain you know what you’re picking before you start eating it. Young children will make a beeline for any red berries when you’re picking rose hips so make sure they are definitely picking rose hips.)
The following recipe will give you a medium strength, sweet rose hip syrup. If you want something stronger, simply add more rose hips (use a kilo instead of 500g). The water / sugar ratio will give you a nice, syrupy syrup – nothing too watery!
- 500g rosehips
- 750g sugar
- - Bring 1 litre of water to the boil in a large saucepan
- - Wash the rosehips and break off the stalks
- - Put them in a food processor with 200ml water and blitz them until all the rosehips have been chopped up
- - Place the chopped rosehips into the boiling water
- - Return to boiling point then remove from the heat and allow to stand for 15 minutes
- - Pour the mixture through a piece of muslin, a jelly bag or a clean tea towel into a large bowl
- - Twisting the muslin at the top, squeeze out all the juice from the rosehips into the bowl then return the rosehip pulp to the pan, add another 500 ml of water and repeat the above straining process
- - The boiling, cooling and straining process should be repeated three times to extract all the goodness from the rosehips
- - Pour the extracted liquid into a clean saucepan and boil to reduce the liquid to 1 litre
- - Add the sugar and boil for another 5 minutes
- - Pour into hot, sterile bottles & seal immediately
- - Store in a cool, dark place
- - Once a bottle is opened, it can be kept in the fridge for about a week
Drizzle over ice cream, cakes, waffles or pancakes. Use as an ingredient in sweet recipes such as poached fruits and fruit tarts and pies – see my recipe for Sweet Rosehip Risotto. If you’re feeling extravagant, make a Rosehip Bellini with rosehip syrup and champagne.