A few weeks ago I was moaning about how autumn had come early and was already planning for a terrible winter. As I type this now though, it’s 28 degrees c outside and I’m sitting here in my shorts with no t-shirt (and yes, it’s October already!).
When the weather is good I hate to sit around doing nothing, so this weekend I dragged out both Gosia and Mia (pictured below) for yet another day’s foraging fun. We already have a freezer full of sloes, elderberries and hawthorns, and this time around we went for the best of all – the under-rated rose hip.
My love of foraging gets me a gentle ribbing from most of my friends; I don’t mind, because to me they’re all missing out on something great and free. Why buy, for example, oranges from Tesco when you can pick rose hips – which contain something in the region of 20 x more vitamin c – for free?
Rose hips grow absolutely everywhere here in the UK and are impossible to mistake with anything nasty. Head out of your house and head to the nearest hedgerow and you’ll see what I mean; at this time of year you’ll find thousands (millions?) of rosehips and hawthorns (and this year, much more abundant than usual, sloes) ready for the taking.
Now there is one word of warning with rose hips, and that is simply that the inside is filled with tiny little hairs which if handled (or eaten) itch like crazy. David Lebovitz described this best with his article “Scratchy-Backside Jam“, which – if a little explicit – sums up what happens if you make jam from them without passing it through a jelly bag. Some people it seems take that itch in their stride, but for me you’re best avoiding that unpleasant side effect.
5 Uses for Rose Hips
- Rose-hip Jelly. This is a classic, and absolutely delicious and fruity. Making a jelly means the mix has been passed through a jelly-bag, removing those itchy hairs. There’s a great rose-hip jelly recipe on Simply Recipes.
- Rose-hip Vodka. Similar to making sloe gin, simply half fill a .75 litre jar with rose hips (500g should do it), add 50g sugar, and pour in the vodka. Shake, store, and give a shake to mix the sugar. After a month, remove the rosehips and bottle. Leave a few more months before drinking.
- Rose-hip Tea. Cut about 5 rose hips per cup in half and scrape out the seeds with a teaspoon. Pour over boiling water and leave for around 5 minutes to infuse.
- Rose hip Syrup. This is a winner on pancakes or for making drinks. Simply blitz 1kg rosehips in a food processor, add to 2 litres boiling water, bring back to the boil and then remove from the heat. Leave for 15 minutes before passing through a jelly bag and re-heating, this time with 500g sugar. Bring to the boil again, then pour into warm sterilised bottles. You can re-use the pulp from the jelly bag with another litre of water again, too (don’t waste any!)
- Rose hip wine. Again a classic, this is one I’m blogging but haven’t yet made – but after reading Booze For Free this year have already bought all the relevant kit to get started in the next couple of weeks. Here’s a great looking recipe for Rose Hip Wine.