Sunday, November 04, 2012

rosehips with a multitude of options: part one - the syrup

something i've become interested in recently is the idea of foraging. nature's bounty harvested and used to concoct delights for free (or thereabouts).

i came across a recipe a couple of months back for rosehip syrup and was instantly excited. i recalled drinking it as a young child, not the foraged kind but the stuff you could get in bottles. i forget the brand name but you don't seem to be able to buy it these days. later on in my youth a friend's mum had a beautiful wooden box of herbal teabags - something we didn't have in our house - and i always chose the rosehip tea, such a wonderful earthy/fruity flavour.

so it was with high hopes that i headed out down the lanes and footpaths in search of hips of my own to stew up and concoct a syrup of my very own.

i managed to harvest just under 2kg and excitedly went about putting together the sticky syrup recipe. what came about was 3 different versions of the syrup which despite tasting really awesome had one off putting - to me - characteristic; it was just too sweet! what i really wanted was something i could use as a warming beverage to sip through the cold winter afternoons and keep me warm. the diluted syrup left me feeling rather queasy to say the least although i think it could have some good uses.

here's the low down (it's a mash up of recipes from river cottage preserves and sarah raven's complete christmas):

makes about 1.5 litres
500g rosehips
650g sugar

- rinse your freshly foraged rosehips, give them a good pick over and make sure there's no bugs or rotters in there.

- put 800ml of water in a small pan and bring to the boil.

- meanwhile blitz your rosehips in the blender (NOTE: these hips are rock hard, unless there has been a really hard frost or two in your area freeze these first to soften them, defrost before blitzing).

- add the hips to the pan and bring back to the boil then turn off the heat and leave to infuse for at least 15 minutes but the longer the better.

- pour through a scalded jelly bag or muslin and leave to drip into a large bowl for half an hour (NOTE: a sieve won't do the job, these hips have tiny hairs inside which are an irritant if swallowed).

- bring another 800ml water to the boil and add the strained pulp back in, bring them back to the boil and leave to infuse again.

- strain into the bowl with the first lot of juice and leave to drip for an hour.

- pour your liquid back into the saucepan, add the sugar and heat. stir until dissolved.

- boil for 2-3 minutes then pour into warm sterilised jars or bottles with lids.

- use within 4 months or 7 days once opened. this syrup can be water processed to make it store for longer if required.

i tried this 3 different ways: plain, with cinnamon and with cloves, star anise and cinnamon. each was good in its own special way but i liked the cinnamon flavour the best. when reheating and adding the sugar add any combination of a stick of cinammon, 2 cloves or 4 star anise and strain before storing.

it's pretty late in the season but there are still some hips available in my area. if you want to make your own - the spice infused version would make an awesome xmas gift - first make sure you know what a rosehip is - there's plenty of info on the web - and ensure to pick away from any really busy roads.

whilst this syrup was too sweet for me, I have since found a good way of using these hips. stay tuned for more adventures with rosehips!

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