Its a great time to pick rosehips. They are all over the place and now fairly “bletted” most spots having an a light frost in the last few weeks. The frost softens the berries and also helps develop the aromatic flavour which has been described as having hints of tropical fruits such as mango and lycee! You can test this by making the syrup in the recipe below which is a realatively simple task and produces a surprisingly high yield.
Rosehips at Woodhouse, Sheffield after the first light frost 2010
There are a number of wild roses native to Britain but typically it is the slightly unappealingly named Dog Rose (Rosa canina) that will be found and which has been used down the centuries for a number of culinary and herbally healing purposes. Theses include rose wine, rose in brandy, rose and coconut candies, Turkish Delight, rose drops, rose water, crystalised rose petals or rose petal jelly. In the Middle-east, rose petal jam is popular but I have always been put off by the idea of having to pick so many of the beautiful flowers preferring instead to wait for the fruits, although don’t pick too many or you risk depriving the birds of winter sustenance. I guess it would be particularly disappointing not leave enough to attract birds such as waxwings but with the quantity around this year you would be hard pressed. Finally on the question of uses has anyone ever had the Swedish style rosehip soup – it does not sound too great but having mentioned it I guess I will haver to try it – I will let you know the results.
Most rosehip syrup recipes seem to be derivived from the famous recipe published in 1943 in the Ministry of Defence booklet called the Hedgerow Harvest. The aim of this was to cash in on the high vitamin C content on offer in times of austerity. Actually the syrup is so good and tasty that its use must have brightened up the diets of those who diligently did their duty and got out and picked. Take some gloves when you go picking as the typically thorny bushes certainly do their job.
1.5 Lt boiling water
Wash the hips and mince in a food processor. Drop into the boiling water and bring back to the boil then leave for 15 minutes. Pour into a linen bag and let drip until the bulk of the liquid has come through.
Return the residue to the pan and add a further 750ml boiling water, stir and allow to stand for 10 minutes. Allow to drip again through the jelly bag.
Put back into the pan and boil down to 750ml juice and then add 900g sugar and boil for 5 minutes.
Pour into hot sterile bottles and seal at once.
Will keep for a year but refrigerate and use within two weeks once bottles opened.
Its great used as a sauce to pour over the lovely Our Cow Molly icecream, diluted 5 to 1 with water as a healthy cordial or I am sure could be mixed cocktail style with your favourite vodka. We use it as an ingredient in our Rosehip and Hibiscus Citrus Hit.
That's it for now. I will get back to you with a report on the success or otherwise of the Rosehip Soup.