My knowledge of rosehips, up until recently, was that as a child my mum used to crush up the seeds to use as itching powder on her siblings. When out on walks I’ve chatted to random folk who I’ve seen picking the rosehips , but the whole idea of turning them into something edible seemed incredibly daunting. That was until I made elderberry cordial this year. It felt so good to get food for free beyond wild blackberries, raspberries and the odd crab apple. Now I’m on a foraging mission!
Hubby bought the pocket-sized C. Collins gem Food For Free book a few years ago. We take it with us whenever we go out for walks and have referred to it a lot, but that’s kind of where it has stopped. We’ve never been quite brave enough to take home that samphire, the shrimps from rock-pooling, or pull up the mushrooms growing on the side of a rotting tree – nor do I think I ever will be with the latter.
Despite the small size of the book it is quite informative; describing each food, the best times to harvest, uses, folklore and recipe suggestions. For the rosehips it suggests two recipes; a Rosehip Dessert dating from 1730 and the official 1943 Wartime Ministry of Food recipe for Rosehip Syrup. I chose to go with the syrup, as I wanted to make something that I could give as gifts for christmas. I certainly know more about rosehips now than just their itching powder potential! For example, rosehips have been found to contain twenty times more vitamin C than in the same weight of oranges. Rosehips were particularly useful for Britain during the Second World War when supplies of citrus fruits were pretty much cut off.
There are some that may argue that the Vitamin C content of rosehip syrup is questionable. Vitamin C is very easily destroyed by various factors such as light, time, heat and it is water-soluble. If you pick and use your rosehips straight away then two of those factors have been cut out – it has to be better than the oranges sat in a fruit bowl by the window for a week (not to mention the storage time before you bought them). Despite the rosehips being heated in water, the vitamin C content is still going to be considerably higher than in most folks’ boiled vegetables. Yes, vitamin C is water soluble, but the liquid is not being discarded as it would be for veggies – and because the vitamin C content is considerably higher to begin with, you will still be left with a reasonably high amount of it in comparison. Also, storing the syrup in a dark, cool place will help.
Here’s how I did it:
Wash the rosehips thoroughly
Bash them with a pestle and mortar or coarsely mince with food processor, dropping them straight into 1.5litres of boiling water.
Bring them to the boil again, turn off and set aside for 20 minutes.
Pour into a flannel in a sieve and leave to drip over a seperate clean pan until most of the liquid has come through.
Return the rosehips to the first pan with another 325 ml of boiling water, bring to the boil and then stand for 10 minutes.
Pour into a flannel in a sieve over the second pan and allow all the liquid to drain.
Discard of the rosehips and boil the drained liquid until it has reduced down to 2/3 of its original volume.
Add 400 g of granulated sugar and boil for 5 more minutes.
Decant into sterile bottles and seal at once.
Rice pudding(or other milk puddings), porridge, ice-cream, pancakes, waffles, or diluted as a drink.
THINGS TO CONSIDER:
Be careful with the sharp hairs on the seeds of the rosehips, these are what cause them to be itchy on the skin. Make sure you have filtered the syrup to remove these fully, because they are a dangerous internal irritant!
Use small bottles for your syrup, as once opened, the syrup will not keep for more than a couple of weeks. I used Lakelands 100ml glass bottles with screw cap lids.
Store the syrup in a cool dark place.