With winter immunity at the forefront of the nation’s mind, there is no better time to head out into nature to utilise the nourishment on our doorsteps. We asked the brilliant grower and gardener Anna Greenland for her top tips for making vitamin C-rich rosehip syrup.
“Wild rosehips are currently adorning the hedgerows; more vibrant than a hot red lipstick! It’s that time to make delicious, vitamin C-rich syrup to stave off winter ills.
Research has proved our UK rosehips contain 20 times more vitamin C than oranges.
As an evacuee in Devon during World War 2, my Dad remembers collecting rosehips for the war effort. Oranges were unavailable, so the Ministry of Food deployed the nation’s school kids to gather this vitamin C rich alternative to make into syrup.
This recipe is not only nutritious, it also tastes so good. Drizzle it over morning porridge, pancakes, stewed fruit or yoghurt. Use it to jazz up autumn cocktails. Or simply take 1-2 tsp off the spoon as a daily preventative dose.
I’ve always used a River Cottage recipe but have made some tweaks and additions over the years. Use unrefined sugar if you can, and if you happen to grow Rose Geranium (a pelargonium with rose scented leaves), 4 or 5 leaves thrown in is an added flavour bonus. For me, a final glug of raw apple cider vinegar just cuts through the sweetness and adds some extra goodness.”
- 1kg rosehips, washed and stalks removed
- 5 rose geranium leaves (optional)
- 650g granulated sugar (I use unrefined golden granulated)
- 10 ml raw apple cider vinegar
As with all pickling and preserving recipes, the first step is to sterilise any bottles and lids you might be using.
Gather your rosehips, if picking before the first frost, freeze for 24hours before using. Defrost and add in small batches to your food processor, pulsing until roughly chopped.
Add the hips to a large saucepan with 1.5 litres of water. Bring to boil and simmer for 15 minutes.
If you grow Rose Geranium, try adding add 4-5 leaves when the liquid is simmering to impart flavour. This is very much an optional step however.
Strain the liquid from the hips through a sieve lined with a double layer of muslin, allowing pulp to sit for at least half an hour to let all the juice run through. Press gently with a spatula to ensure all juice is released.
Discard the pulp to your compost and repeat any straining steps. The hairs in rosehips are a real irritant to mouth and throat and so it must be double stained. Pass the strained juice through a new double layer of muslin or wash the one you’ve used thoroughly.
Measure the rosehip juice into a large saucepan. For every 500ml of liquid, add 325g sugar.
Heat slowly to dissolve sugar before boiling for 3 minutes. Remove any any scum that appears on the surface.
Remove from heat, and for an added touch of sourness and gut-boosting goodness, add a small glug of raw apple cider vinegar – roughly 10ml. You only want a hint of this so don’t overdo it! Again, this stage is optional.
Decant immediately into bottles. Seal, and label when cool. Use within 4 months and pop in fridge after opening.