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Hip hip hooray!

By The Twig - Well Seasoned, Oct 4 2017 08:00AM

From October through to December the rosehip is a common sight in our British gardens, hedgerows and along footpaths.

As their name suggests, rosehips are the bud of the wild rose and they are jam-packed full of vitamin C (some estimates say up to 20 times as much as oranges). They can't be eaten raw but they can be processed fairly simply into a fragrant syrup. During WWII the general public were encouraged to pick rosehips and make the syrup for children who would otherwise have lacked vitamin C (because boats with cargos of citrus from the tropics couldn't reach the UK). Rosehips are difficult to cultivate commercially and so, even today, producers rely on wild crops.

For a sweet wintery treat, collect some rosehips from your local hedgerow and make your own

Here's the original, official Ministry of Food's wartime recipe:

• 2lbs (900g) rosehips

• 560g caster sugar

• You'll also need a jelly bag or muslin cloth and screw top jars or bottles.

Boil 2 litres of water in a large pan. Mince the hips coarsely in a food processor and spoon into the pan. Bring the water back to the boil then turn off the heat and put to one side for 15 minutes. Pour the mixture through your jelly bag or a jam funnel lined with muslin, into a bowl. Allow to drip until all of the liquid has drained through. Discard the hips. Return the pink juice to the (rinsed) saucepan, add 900ml of boiling water, stir and allow to stand for 10 minutes. Pour the liquid through the jelly bag or muslin again (you want to be sure that all of the irritating little hairs are removed). Thoroughly clean your pan, pour in the juice and boil down until you have about 1 litre left. Add the sugar, stir until dissolved then boil for 5 minutes. Pour into hot sterile bottles and seal. Store your syrup in a dark cupboard.

The syrup won't keep for more than a week once opened so best to use small bottles. It's delicious on porridge and rice pudding or added to hot water to create a sweet, fruity infusion.

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