Last week during one of our daily walks I came across some rosehips growing amongst the hedgegrow of Parkhouse Farm Lane.
During World War II, in a rare show of Governmental frugality, the ministry of health put forth a scheme to begin gathering rosehips, which hold 20 times the amount of vitamin C in oranges (rosehips contain 2000mg of vitamin C/100g of fruit). Due to the lack of fresh fruit and orange juice being imported at the time, it was essential for the people of Britain to get a good dose of vitamin C from somewhere and the wild larder provided.As a child I remember collecting these by the sack full and taking them to school as part of this scheme. (Many years after the second world war I hasten to add! lol!) I vaguely remember getting some sort of badge for my efforts but the size of the badge nowhere comparabled with the sack loads of rosehips both myself and my family collected from Eston Hills.
- 500g Rosehips
- 500g Sugar/Caster sugar
- 2 pints of water (first infusion)
- 1 pint of water (second infusion)
Give the hips a good clean and remove any stalks. Place in a stainless steel pan and pummel the hell out of them with a potato masher, you can if you prefer, roughly chop them with a knife, but if you need to vent any frustration: Potato masher.
Boil 2 pints of water in a kettle, pour over the rosehips in the pan and bring to the boil, then remove from heat, cover and allow to infuse for 30-40 minutes.
Strain the contents through muslin or an old pair of tights (my personal favourite) into a bowl. For the second infusion transfer the pulp back into the pan, pour over a pint of boiling water and repeat the process as before. This removes all those irritating hairs.
Combine the strained liquids into a fresh saucepan and bring to the boil reduce by half. Add the sugar and boil fiercely for 5 minutes till all the sugar is dissolved.
Remove from the heat and pour into a warm, sterilized bottle or jar and leave to cool. Store in a warm place and consume within a week or two. To make it last longer, you could add a small amount of tartaric acid as you would when making elderflower cordial.
What to do?
Moving with the seasons, rosehips are only ever available at this time of year before the first frosts begin to take their toll on them. Therefore it seems only right to use the syrup for something to warm the soul. Either drizzled over a steaming apple & blackberry crumble or combined with other liquids to make a delightful hot drink…
Other than a good woman, this is the perfect fireside companion, absolutely incredible, possibly even better than the original and that’s saying something! Put a good slog of whisky in a mug (Glenmorangie original is quite delicate and a perfect partner, if not than a nice blended whisky like Famous Grouse…do NOT use Bells!) Add a little rosehip syrup and the juice of a 1/3 of a lemon and top up with boiling water. You may want to experiment with quantities as everyone has their personal preference. This drink is certainly packed to the hilt with vitamin C; it may even be useful to soothe a cold! For a children’s version, simply leave out the whisky.
For a good cocktail, hot or cold, a rich dark rum, rosehip syrup, apple juice and a slice of lemon will be enough to get any party started…a good addition to Halloween and bonfire night! The leaves make a fine aromatic tea and can be used alongside the syrup; the syrup can even be used as a cordial.
In conclusion, I would definitely recommend making a batch of rosehip syrup. It’s one of those perfect Sunday afternoon projects. Go for a walk, get your rosehips, make syrup, and enjoy a Rosehip toddy the very same day. I wonder what it would be like in mulled wine? I will have to find out later…midday is a bit early for that kind of thing!