Sophia Wilesmith is a herb enthusiast and loves to go foraging in the Herefordshire countryside. Read all about rose hips and how to make a delicious syrup.
Wild rose hips, the fruit of the wild dog rose, pepper our British hedgerows and are ripe now until the end of October. Not only are they deliciously fruity, tangy and slightly spicy, they are very nutritious. Rose hips provide one of the best natural and abundantly available sources of vitamin C. During war time rationing, they were made into syrups and given to children for this reason.
Historically, rose hips have been used medicinally for general wellbeing, and for their cooling and astringent properties. Herbalists have used them for centuries as a restorative tonic, toning and invigorating the body, to aid digestive complaints, such as constipation, and to relieve fevers or colds. They have also been used to treat mild gallbladder problems and conditions of the kidney and bladder. Culpepper, a famous 17th century herbalist, describes the syrup made from wild rose hips “of pleasant taste, it binds the belly and stays defluxions from the head upon the stomach, dries up the moisture and helps digestion”. The root was once said to cure rabies, the Celts used them for infected wolf bites, and there is speculation this might account for its name, Rosa canina, dog rose.
Rose hips are used all over the world in various ways; I have enjoyed rosehip cordial at the foot of the Himalayas, India. The Argentineans make a very good rose hip liqueur. In Europe, rosehip jams and jellies are very popular, and in Turkey rose hip syrup is enjoyed with Turkish doughnuts.
The hips and leaves can be enjoyed as a tea whenever required. I prefer to simmer hips in a pan for 10 – 15 minutes, pour and enjoy, but you can brew them in a teapot. The dried leaves make a nice tea, and are said to be a good tea leave substitution.
Sophia’s Rose Hip Syrup Recipe
To be simply enjoyed as a herbal tonic; or topped up with sparkling water as a cordial, drizzled over ice cream or pancakes, or as a mixer. 50g rosehips 1 litre water 1 kg sugar • Ripe rose hips are a deep red colour, with the flower stamens drying at the top • Pick good undamaged hips and wash them. • Generally 50g of hips require 1 litre of water. • Put the hips in a pan and cover with water, simmer gently for 20 minutes, with the lid on, until soft. • Strain well, and return the strained rouge coloured water to the pan • Reduce water to 500 ml by gently simmering and add 1 kg sugar • Stir until the sugar has dissolved • Pour into sterilised bottles and seal when cold. Store in the fridge.