Recipe: Make our autumnal rosehip syrup
PUBLISHED: 10:00 19 September 2020 | UPDATED: 10:10 21 September 2020
Go foraging and fill your kitchen with the delicious scent of crisp red apples and Turkish delight.
Rambling through the fields and woodlands during the course of this strange and horrible year has been my saving grace. Our local traffic-free railway walk, just on the doorstep, with its offshoots into the wilderness, has proved to be not only a refuge for walking (away from the hubbub of home) but a bounteous larder too.
From the frilly fronds of elderflower in spring, via blackberries, cherry plums and sloes, the route has taken me on a natural, seasonal culinary journey, month by month. I don’t know about you, but the slowness of 2020 has made me appreciate ‘the outdoors’ more than ever – and I feel quite the domestic goddess with my larder of jellies, jams, pickles and spirits.
This week I turned my attention to rosehips. Emblazoning the dying embers of summer with their fiery tangerine-red hue, there’s no missing these little beauties. Ovoid in shape, they will be tangled into the middle to upper parts of hedgerows, dangling, jewel-like from their calyxes.
Largely from the common dog rose family (rosa canina), the rambling climbers have unforgivingly prickly stems so make sure you take a pair of gloves out foraging with you, and also some snippers or scissors – they’re quite stubborn to get off the plant.
As with sloes, a spell of frost does wonders for rosehips, allowing them to release more of their essence. Obviously there’s no chance of cold weather imminently, but pop your washed rosehips, with stems removed, in a bag in the freezer overnight and that will do the trick.
All you need then is a fine muslin and sieve, a clean, sterilised bottle and a bit of time steeping, boiling and straining the buds of their aromatic liquor, which fills the kitchen with a fruity scent somewhere between freshly picked red apples and Turkish delight.
The final product makes a deliciously exotic addition to fizz or sparkling water, is gorgeous drizzled over baked apples and pears, and makes a fine ‘posh’ topping for vanilla ice cream.
I always keep one bud spare, drying out in a cupboard, ready to pierce between my fingernails, slipping the insides down my husband’s top when he’s not looking for a prank – just like I did to my brother (and him to me) when we were growing up. Homemade itching powder!
Makes just under 1lt
300g rosehips, cleaned and green stem and calyx removed
Plenty of fresh water
Around 400-500g caster sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
Pop the rosehips in the freezer overnight. The next day allow them to defrost and chop roughly in a food processor.
Tip into a pan and cover with water – about an inch over the surface of the buds. Bring to the boil and reduce the liquid by half. Strain through a muslin or jelly strainer set over a sieve.
Repeat the process twice more, crushing the hips in the pan to squeeze out their flavour.
I ended up with 560ml of liquid. Add the lemon juice. You need to add three quarters the amount of sugar to liquid. So I poured mine back into the pan with around 375g caster sugar – but you may have more.
Bring to the boil and simmer to a light, thin, syrupy consistency. Pour into a sterilised pot/jar or bottle. Use within four months once opened.
NOTE: Only forage when you are 100% sure what you are picking. I always recommend taking out a guide book for reference.
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