Thursday, September 20, 2012

Rosehip Syrup & other bits and bobs

I've taken a week off everything physical to try and beat whatever is bugging me and making the asthma worse.  I traditionally do this after my last marathon of the year as it allows me to recharge my batteries both mentally and physically.  But, with the Beachy Head marathon in just 4 weeks I really need to be in good shape and there is no denying that I am feeling grotty at the moment!

So I've taken to stalking our hedgerows as a gentle form of exercise.  They are laden with enough sloes to start a small distillery.

Sloe gin growing nicely!

The blackberries and hawthorn berries are glowing like jewels.  I've already made rosehip and bramble jelly which I hadn't tried before, which is sublime and I'll write up a recipe soon, and I am toying with the idea of trying hawthorn jelly (although the taste when they are raw doesn't really appeal so I may not bother!).

The haul of rosehips this year is phenomenal and I don't think we've ever had so many that I could be really picky and only choose the really beautiful and perfect ones.  I picked 2kg and there's at least 5 times that amount left for the birds.

I've been making rosehip syrup for years, whenever I could find a plentiful supply of hips as it's such a wonderful source of vitamin C to help ward off colds throughout the winter months. In our last garden we grew Rosa Rugosa which produced the most beautiful round hips and they made a lovely syrup.  Our hedgerows have 2 forms of Dog Rose, one with white flowers and one with pale pink flowers and the hips are a slightly different shape.

So, here's my recipe for Rosehip Syrup:


You can halve the quantities successfully as it's not always possible to gather so many hips.

1kg of hips, nice and ripe and no mushy ones
1kg of sugar - I've used caster sugar and granulated in the past with excellent results.  I've seen recipes using dark sugar but I think that might overpower the flavour of the hips.  This time I've experimented with Golden Caster sugar.
Boiling water (quantities within the recipe)
Warmed, sterilised bottles or jars with lids or corks (small bottles are best for this as once it's opened it doesn't keep well)

Gather the hips carefully as the thorns on our native Dog Rose are vicious!  I use a pair of secateurs or scissors to snip the hips off.  Wash them and get rid of any dried brown bits on the bottom of the hips.

A beautiful haul of Rosehips

Boil 2 litres of water (I use the kettle for this rather than a pan).  Most recipes tell you to chop the hips.  Well, I'm sorry but life is too short for that so I just toss them in the blender with a some of the water as it makes the grinding easier.

Chopping rosehips the easy way!

Tip all the minced rosehips and all the water into a preserving pan.  The mixture looks a bit like red lentils. Bring the water to the boil again then remove from the heat, give it a good stir, cover the pan and leave to steep for 30 minutes.

Chopped rosehips and water
Scald a jelly bag and tip the mixture into it with a bowl underneath to collect the liquid.  If you haven't got a jelly bag you can use a couple of pieces of muslin to line a colander but be careful that it is strained properly as the rosehip seeds have hairs that can irritate the gut.  Strain for 30 minutes then remove the pulp from the bag and put it back in the pan with another 1 litre of boiling water.  Stir, cover and leave for a further 30 minutes then strain this through the jelly bag/muslin into the other juice.

Throw away the pulp (it's good for the compost heap!).

Put the juice into a clean pan and boil rapidly until it has reduced by 1/2.  Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar until it has all dissolved.  It's important to make sure all the sugar crystals have dissolved before you boil the mixture as they can spoil the look of the finished syrup.  Then boil the mixture rapidly, without stirring, for 5 minutes.

Double, double toil and trouble
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble!
Pour carefully into the bottles or jars and seal.  I use my large measuring jug to pour the syrup into the bottles.  Store in a cool dark place.

Liquid vitamin C
Enjoy a spoonful a day throughout the dark months of Winter or drizzle it over ice cream/pancakes.

Mandala and knitting progress

The mandala is growing nicely and I'm in love with this technique as it's so absorbing.  Using an aran weight silk/cotton yarn is not the easiest of options but I love the nobbly texture and of course these colours are perfect for the dining room.  I think I'll be playing around with this technique some more over the next few months.

My jumper is coming on slowly but surely but I can only work on it in daylight as I find the dark colours of the kidsilk haze difficult to see well in artificial light.


Mike's just finishing off some steps from the lawn to part of the patio.  There's a bit just below the patio that is just crying out for a bit of mosaic (you can see that Mike has kindly cross hatched it to provide a key for my mosaic).  I haven't done any mosaic for a while so I'm going to enjoy it.  

Steps in need of mosaic magic
I've got loads of tesserae (glass and ceramic) but I thought I'd make use of some of the bits and bobs I've dug up in the garden.  I've got loads of bits of blue and white pottery but I also have a few bits of brown and cream and some bits of old broken glass in various shades of green so I thought I'd go for muted colours.  

Broken bits

In the bottom left there are some makers' marks which I'd like to include if possible and I've got some Shisha Mirrors somewhere that could brighten it up too.  I think I've got some diamond shaped ones as well as circles.

Whilst rummaging around I found these ceramic bunnies that I made in pottery class a few years ago.  There are some hearts too (a motif I use a lot!).  They were made for a mobile but the firing wasn't right and some of the pieces were broken when someone else's pot fell on top of my things.  

The 2 small blue and orange bunnies were made in memory of Tango and Bluebelle by last 2 beautiful Rex rabbits who sadly passed away a few years ago.  I'd kept Rex rabbits for over 30 years but I decided not to get any more when they died.

Beautiful bunnies

Weather permitting, I'll make a start on the mosaic tomorrow.

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