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Useful ways to make the most of rosehips

There are so many free foods out there, unsuspectingly hanging around in bushes and hedgerows, as we nonchalantly stroll about on our daily business. One pretty bud is the rosehip, red and curvaceous, prolific right now as the remnant of the wild or dog rose. 

Rosehips, or haws used to be collected by children in Britain during the war and the government would encourage people by way of recipes in newspapers, to turn them into syrup, due to the shortage of citrus fruits because of the war. They can also be used to make jelly, jams, bread, wines and alcoholic drinks. Rosehip oil is often sold as a pricey skin treatment - all this from a little red bud that we can go out and forage.

The reason that rosehips are so prized is for their high vitamin C content, just one tablespoon a day will give you more than you need as an adult, making them a powerful immune system booster and one of the best ways you can kill off a cold. Rosehips are in abundance right now and the late Autumn sunshine has given them an added burst of flavour. 

But it’s not just for their goodness that I collect them, the intense flavour is worth the effort. Although they are fiddly to deal with, the results are so worth it that I went out again and collected more to dry as a tea, as well as a cordial. The flavour of the rosehip syrup is unlike anything else I’ve ever tasted, as they are a member of the apple family, you can really get the apple flavour when you make either of the two recipes here. 

So even though it requires effort, you will end up with a store of the most delicious medicine you will ever taste. The only problem is that children think it tastes better than anything else too so you might have to hide it. Get as many rosehips as you can and make as much as you can. 

I had only one pound of them and still got over 1 litre of syrup so the yield is high, they are very high in pectin so you get a lot for your efforts. Some recipes say that you don’t need to top and tail them but I did this sitting down watching TV, granny-style!

Rosehip Syrup 

Ingredients 

1lb rosehips - topped and tailed 

3pts water

500g sugar 

Method 

1. Put the rosehips into a food processor or blender and roughly chop them 

2. Put them into a pot with 2 pints of water and bring it to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes

3. Line a strainer with muslin and pour the mixture into this, leave it strain for about an hour then give it a good squeeze. You will feel that the hips can take another boiling and you’re right, so return them to the pot with another pint of water and repeat the process.

4. You should now have about 1 litre of rosehip juice. Rinse out your pot and pour in this juice with 500g sugar and bring it to a boil. Simmer the mixture for 5 minutes.

5. Meanwhile streilise some bottles by putting them, rinsed into the oven at 160degreesC for 10 minutes or put them through a dishwasher cycle without a tablet.

6. Pour the hot syrup, using a funnel, into the hot bottles and pop the lids on.

This will store for months if the bottles have been sterilised first. Enjoy a rewarding harvest.

Rosehip Tea 

Another way to store the goodness of these fruity fellas is to make a colourful and fragrant tea from them. This is easier and faster if you have a dehydrator but I don’t so I just used the oven and the results are fine. The tea smells and tastes amazing and drinking it is said to be great for your skin;s elasticity. Rosehips contain many small hairs around the seeds and they can irritate the throat so its important to follow all the steps.

Ingredients: 1lb rosehips 

Method 

1. Top and tail the rosehips as before and cut them in half lengthways and remove the seeds. The easiest way to get the seeds out is to slice the hips lengthways and then scoop the seeds out with a knife. It’s good to do this with someone else so you can have a chat at the same time. You can keep the seeds and do some guerilla gardening by throwing them onto some space that could do with a bit of greenery in the future.

2. Preheat the oven to 120C and lay the rosehips out on baking trays that have been lined with sheets of baking parchment 

3. Bake them in the oven until they are fully dry, this will take about two hours

4. When the dried hips have cooled, pop them into a sieve and give it a shake to get out any remaining hairs. Store your tea in a clean, dry jar or tin.

5. There is a big difference in volume from what you began with and what you have now, but one teaspoon of this in boiled water tastes refined and delicious, plus it’s caffeine free and a great boost for your skin too. Add dried hibiscus flowers for the classic, rosehip and hibiscus tea. A tangy pick-me-up.