This time last year, my Friend Clare O'Brien stood in my garden and said "What fantastic rosehips - you must make some rosehip syrup!". I looked at her scornfully and replied "If Shirley Conran said life's too short to stuff a mushroom, then it's certainly too short for making rosehip syrup!" And here I am a year later eating my words.
Putting aside childhood memories of being given rosehip syrup on a spoon (it was always much nicer than syrup of figs, cod liver oil or liquid paraffin (vomit!) which were the other occasional remedies that tortured my childhood days) I decided to have a go today. I've been told it's great added to a glass of chilled white wine, like a Kir, as a refreshing cordial or poured onto some ice cream - that has to make it worth a try.
I spent the best part of half an hour up a stepladder, getting the hips down from the rose tree. I trimmed each hip, removing the hairy beards. I later realised I didn't need to do this as the whole mixture gets strained several times during the cooking process. It was nonetheless strangely satisfying. I was accompanied by a rather nice selection of classical piano music as I worked.
My kitchen now smells absolutely gorgeous - the strained liquid is bubbling away in the background as I write this.
My top tips for other would-be rose-hippers
- I didn't wholly rely on the wartime recipe but flipped between this and Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's from the Guardian - which was very similar. I followed the wartime quantities but allowed the boiled mixture to stand for HFW's recommended half hour rather than the 10 minutes suggested by the old Ministry of Food
- I couldn't manage to get any muslin or jelly bags locally - but I found a pair of tights was more than adequate to the task! TOP TIP!
- Last but not least - please learn from me! I am almost done and have just realised I have no small bottles to decant the syrup into. Large ones are not a good idea as the mixture only lasts a short time once opened. Doh!