In October the thing I love best in the garden or in the lanes are the rosehips in the hedges. Amongst the autumnal backdrop the rosehips stand out like bright jewels! They turn from bright orange to ruby red as they ripen and they last right through to December, making them so vital for birds.. It is one of the many gifts of nature that is too often taken for granted.
Coupled with the bright red clusters of hawthorn berries (haws) you can see why ‘hips and haws’ caught the attention of our ancestors as they walked the lanes and byways of Cornwall. Often these fruits were some of the only available at this time of year and there are many traditional recipes for preserving them.
Rosehip syrup is a true autumnal delight. It’s warm, sweet, floral and fruity. Did you know rosehip syrup is extremely high in vitamin C? In fact, a single rosehip contains more Vitamin C than an orange (according to National Geographic’s Edible). The syrup was used as a supplement and during the second world war children in some parts of the country were paid to collect them by the Women’s Institute. A medicinal spoonful a day would be taken straight after the awful cod liver oil!
You can use rosehip syrup in many recipes – it is perfect for a cheeky cocktail with a tipple of your choosing, trickled over porridge or yoghurt, pancakes, rice pudding or vanilla ice cream.
So if you would like to experience rosehip syrup for yourself, find the hips of our traditional native roses the Dog or Field rose, (rose cultivars don’t taste so nice).
Also, be aware that hips have small hairs inside them which are an irritant that need removing. Here is an easy method: cook the hips in water, mashing them with a potato masher until they have softened – then simmer for 15 minutes before passing the mash through a double layer of muslin which removes the hairs. Once you have then repassed the juice through another clean muslin, you can add normal granulated sugar (150g of sugar to 250 ml of water to 150g of hips). Once the sugar is dissolved, bring the mixture to the boil, take off the heat and put into sterilised jars or bottles. Voila – you have beautiful Rosehip syrup! Use within four months and thank mother nature for another wonderful gift!
And if you don’t have one nearby I can really recommend you acquire a Dog or Field Rose for your garden – they are great for birds, beneficial insects and their open flowers are perfect for honey and bumblebees.