This recipe is for the creation of a sweet syrup made from the common fruits of the rose.
In European history, the rosehip has been used in cordials, puddings and perfumes as it has a sweet and delicate flavour. Not only that, but the fruit is rich in vitamin C, essential for the prevention of nutritional problems such as scurvy.

In Britain during the Second World War, rosehips were collected in vast numbers and used as a substitute for other, harder to come by fruits. Luckily, due to the abundance of wild roses in woodlands and hedgerows, they were readily available. Although many rosehips were collected by volunteers, children also got involved, and groups of children would work together, earning badges and gaining prizes (as well as 3 pennies per pound of rosehips) for collecting the most fruit. The recipe below is based on the one used by the Ministry of Food in Britain during the war.

When collecting rosehips, only do so from places where they will not have been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides, and will not have absorbed fumes from the exhausts of passing cars. Rosehip collecting should be left until just after the first frosts, so that the fruit has time to soften and attain is maximum sweetness, and is a fun activity for all the family.

The Recipe

  • 2lb (900 grams) of rosehips
  • 1 1/4lb (560 grams) of sugar

  1. Boil 3 pints (1.7 litres) of water.
  2. Coarsely mince hips in a food processor and put immediately into the boiling water.
  3. Bring the pan back to the boil, and then leave to stand for 15 minutes.
  4. Pour into a flannel or linen bag or very fine sieve and strain until most of the liquid has come through.
  5. Return the pulp to the pan and add 1 and a 1/2 pints (852ml) of boiling water, stir, and allow to stand for 10 minutes.
  6. Pour back into the linen bag and allow to drip.
  7. To make sure all the sharp hairs are removed put back the first half cupful of liquid and allow to drip through again.
  8. Put the mixed juice into a clean saucepan and boil down until the juice measures about 1 1/2 pints (852ml), then add 1 1/4lb (560gm) of sugar and boil for a further 5 minutes.
  9. Pour into hot, sterile bottles and seal at once.

Rosehip syrup will not keep for more than a couple of weeks once the container is opened, so it's best to store it in small bottles to reduce waste. It can be kept either in the fridge or a cupboard and mixed as a cordial, added to puddings, yoghurt or used as a topping for ice cream. Enjoy!

Caution!

The hairs on the seeds of the rosehip are best known as the prime ingredient of itching powder. Be very careful when making the syrup not to get hairs into it as these can be extremely irritating. Also, be sure you dispose of your rosehip hairs without letting your children know, or else you may find yourself in some very uncomfortable situations!

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