Rose Hip Syrup
Any sort of rose hips will do – all are edible – but I used all wild rose hips. Cultivated roses have bigger rose hips. You can pick rose hips in batches and freeze them – in fact, tradition advises gathering rose hips after a frost. The reason is that the frost breaks down the cell walls of the fruit, thereby giving more liquid once the fruit is cooked. But hips are much easier to pick when they are hard – not squishy – so freezing them for 24 hours is a much better idea.
Rose hips contain a lot of vitamin C – but this is easily destroyed by heat so most recipes suggest cooking the hips/pulp twice over for a very short amount of time.
(1 kg) rose hips, minced (I chopped them in batches using the chopper/grinder device with my mixer).
(3 litres) water
500g sugar – brown or white
Mince rose hips then put immediately into 2 litres of boiling water. Bring to the boil again then remove from the pan and leave for at least 15 minutes. Strain through a jelly bag/muslin/linen (I used an old cotton pillow slip placed in a sieve over a bowl). Leave to allow most of the juice to drip through.
Reserve juice and put pulp back into the saucepan with 1 litre of boiling water. Reboil briefly and then leave to stand for 15 minutes – as before – pour into the (same) jelly bag and leave to drip through.
Because rose hips have fine hairs that are a serious irritant, I always strain again to make absolutely sure I have removed them all. So strain again through a clean piece of muslin or pillow slip folded over in a sieve.
Pour the strained rose hip juice into a large saucepan, add 500g sugar, heat slowly and stir until dissolved. Bring to the boil and boil for 3 minutes. Pour into warm sterilised bottles* and seal and label.
Use within 4 months and refrigerate once opened.
*To sterilise bottles and tops, wash in warm soapy water and rinse well, then put on a tray in a low oven (120°C Gas ½) to dry out and heat up.
Rose Hip Syrup has a unique taste – described as ‘warm, floral and fruity’ on the River Cottage website. I quite like it poured neat onto ice cubes – like a liqueur. It’s also good with lemonade and as a hot toddy diluted with hot water. It’s very high in vitamin C (rosehips contain twenty times more vitamin C than you find in oranges) – ideal for keeping winter coughs and colds away. During the war – when there were no oranges – children were given rose hip syrup from the Ministry of Health and even after the war, as a child, my mother gave me a teaspoonful of neat rosehip syrup every day.