English roses are known around the world for their beauty, fragrance and rare delicacy, and these incredibly beautiful flowers are used in fine gardens everywhere to create inspiring, enchanting borders, trellises, containers and even rambling hedges.
But where roses bloom, rosehips must follow, and this year has been a wonderful year for rosehips, with them now filling up the hedgerows in abundance. We've talked recently about foraging opportunities in September, and the rich benefits offered by nature's larder, such as blackberries, sloes and elderberries.
But did you know that rosehips also can be used for a variety of purposes? It's important that we leave plenty for the birds, which rely on rosehips as a food source as the weather starts to get colder, but there are still plenty of hips across our gardens and hedgerows and they can be used for the kitchen or bathroom.
Why rosehips are good for our health
The main draw of these brightly coloured little hips is that they are naturally rich in vitamin C and can help to boost your immune system as the traditional cold and flu season approaches. Along with elderberry syrup, which can also be made from foraged elders and stored for weeks safely in glass bottles with corks, rose hips can be made into a syrup for medicinal benefits. Traditionally, wild rose hips are believed to have a higher degree of vitamin C than rose bushes found in the garden - but why not harvest both? They also contain useful amounts of vitamins A, B and E.
When to gather rosehips
Although rosehips are found on all types of rose bush, the best syrup is made from the most common of them all, the dog rose, which is found abundantly across the countryside, growing in hedges, scrub, hedges and wood, up to 550 metres in altitude. You can also found hedgehog roses around towns as these are often used for hedging. This also makes a great syrup. Look for the bright red hips which are oval-shaped and striking, appearing in September and October as they ripen in small clusters.
Rosehip recipes to try
Gather up your glass bottles and labels, perhaps glass bottles with corks for stylish presentation and for long-lasting contents, and try some of these ideas.
This tea is naturally sweet and a delicate rose colour. To make it, use around two heaped tablespoons of heaped hips and remove the seeds as these can cause digestive issues. Steep the hips in boiling water and strain before sweetening the tea to taste.
Raw rosehip syrup
This is a lovely recipe from The Woodland Trust and it's been used since World War II when fresh fruit was hard to come by. To make it, you can boil rosehips with water and sugar, but this raw version preserves as much goodness as possible, as well as a tangier flavour. Gather your rosehips and give them a good rinse in water. Trim off the ends and piece each hip with a fork.
Gather your glass jars with corks and sterilise them before adding a layer of sugar and a layer of hips. Keep layering this up and aim to fill any spaces with sugar. Seal the glass jar and place it in a sunny spot for a few weeks, or up to two months. Turn it periodically and the sugar will naturally draw the pink rosehip juice from the hips and create a fragrant, delicious syrup. This can then be passed through a muslin cloth before being sealed into your glass jars and stored in the fridge.
Ideas for using your rosehip syrup
There are plenty of ways to use your syrup but bear in mind that its delicate flavour tends to impair over time. Use it sooner rather than later, and try it:
- In spoonfuls for a vitamin tonic - one that tastes delicious!
- As a cordial, diluted with water
- As a cocktail ingredient, such as with white rum, ice and soda water for a mojito twist
- On pancakes as an alternative to maple syrup - or drizzled over yoghurt, waffles, ice cream or any pudding you fancy!
Stock up on your supplies
In preparation for making rosehip syrup, cordial or tea, do stock up on your glass jars in advance so you can store the beautiful pink liquid safely in the fridge and reuse them time and time again without any lessening of quality. Glass bottles with corks are always very popular with our customers for preserving and we stock a wide range at Wares of Knutsford, all at great prices and with fast delivery. Our customer service team is always on hand to help too, so please do get in touch if you have any queries at all.