While many of our garden roses are starting to wind down for their winter dormancy, autumn marks the beginning of an altogether more dazzling phase in the annual cycle for many of the wilder roses in our hedgerows. The changing of seasons for many rugosas – such as Scabrosa and Rosa Rugosa Alba – brings with it splendid displays of succulent red and orange hips. And while hips of course offer a valuable food source for much of our wildlife, here at Trevor White HQ, hips can only mean one thing – rose-hip syrup!
Vanessa has been making rose-hip syrup from her dad’s well-used 1977 edition of Food from Your Garden by Readers Digest, for as long as we can remember. And a kitchen suddenly cluttered with sterilising jars, piles of hips rolling around work surfaces, and pans bubbling away on the hob always promises weeks of treats and indulgence. For if you have an abundance of rose-hip syrup, you’re going to need something – or things – to accompany it, and fruit pies, crumbles, ice cream, poached pears or a good gin cocktail usually work a treat!
Here is the recipe, as taken from Food From Your Garden, we seek out every autumn. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
2lb (1kg) ripe rose-hips
6 pints (3l) water
1lb (500g) sugar
Gather the hips from the wild or dog rose, or from the cultivated Rosa Rugosa. These are the easiest to clean.
Wash the hips, remove the stalks and calyces, and put the hips through the coarse blade of a mincer. Add them to a pan containing 4 pints (2l) of water, bring back to the boil, and remove the pan from the heat.
Allow to stand for 15 minutes then strain through a jelly bag. Extract as much juice as possible. Return the pulp to the pan with a further 2 pints (1l) of boiling water. Bring back to the boil and remove from the heat. Leave for 10 minutes, then strain through a clean jelly bag.
Mix the two juice extracts, and boil in a clean pan until reduced to about 2 pints (1l).
Add the sugar, stirring until dissolved. Bring to the boil and keep at boiling point for 5 minutes.
Pour into clean, warm bottles and seal at once with sterilised stoppers or corks. Use small bottles if possible, for the syrup does not keep long once opened.