Ministry of Food Rosehip Syrup
by Amanda Cook
Gorgeously fat, red rosehips abound in the hedgerows this time of year - and it’s a shame to let them go to waste. Rosehips are filled with Vitamin C, and are a wonderful immune boost for the coming winter months. In fact, during World War II the public were encouraged to make rosehip syrup for children to supplement Vitamin C, given limited availability of citrus fruit.
There are two challenges when working with rosehips: first, don’t prick your finger on the rose thorns, and second, don’t touch the itchy hairs inside the rosehips. You’ll want to cut the rosehips in half and scrape out the itchy hairs and seeds (while wearing gloves!). Alternatively, if you’re making an infused vinegar or syrup, you can strain the finished product through fine muslin to catch any seeds and hairs.
Directions given by the Ministry of Food (MoF) during the war for 2 pounds (900g) of hips.
- Boil 3 pints (1.7 litres) of boiling water.
- Mince hips in a coarse mincer (food processor) and put immediately into the boiling water.
- Bring to boil and then place aside for 15 minutes.
- Pour into a jelly bag and allow to drip until the bulk of the liquid has come through.
- Return the residue to the saucepan, add 11/2 pints (852ml) of boiling water, stir and allow to stand for 10 minutes.
- Pour back into the jelly bag and allow to drip.
- To make sure all the sharp hairs are removed put back the first half cupful of liquid and allow to drip through again.
- Put the mixed juice into a clean saucepan and boil down until the juice measures about 11/2 pints (852ml), then add 11/4 (560g) of sugar and boil for a further 5 minutes.
- Pour into hot sterile bottles and seal at once.
It is advisable to use small bottles as the syrup will not keep for more than a week or two once the bottle is opened.
Store in a dark cupboard.
The resulting syrup can be used as a flavouring for milk puddings, ice-cream or almost any sweet, or diluted as a drink.
Source: The Hedgerow Harvest, MoF, 1943