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The hip way to stay healthy

Blog | By Elisabeth Luard | Oct 27, 2023

Gather rosehips while ye may… for jelly and syrup when perfectly ripe and red, ideally after the first frost has had time to soften the skins. Lacking frost, pop your gatherings in the freezer overnight. Both wild and garden varieties are ready now – or shortly will be – and all are suitable.

To fill a couple of 1lb jars, you'll need 500g hips, same volume of water, same weight of sugar. De-stalk the hips, rinse under the cold tap, and place them in a heavy-bottomed pan with just enough water to cover. Bring to the boil, turn down the heat and cook till the hips are mushy and soft. Tip the contents of the pan into a linen glass-cloth or a square of muslin or old cotton sheet, knot it at the corners, and hang it on a hook over a bowl to drip overnight.

Next day, measure the juice and return it to the pan with its own volume of granulated or caster sugar (no need for preserving sugar). Stir over a gentle heat till the granules dissolve, then bubble up for 8-10 minutes, until setting point is reached. This won't take long. Rosehips have plenty of pectin, the gelling agent that allows the juices to set to a jelly: to test, drop a little on a cold saucer and if it wrinkles when you push it with your finger, it's ready. Pot up and seal.

To prepare rosehip syrup – granny's miracle cure-all – cook 500g hips, 300ml water and 150g sugar togetheruntil the hips are soft and mushy: no more than 10 minutes at a gentle bubble. Strain out the solids through a non-metal sieve, bottle up the liquid and seal tightly. Dilute with water – hot or cold – as a winter cordial;rosehips are unusually high in sniffle-preventing vitamin C. A spoonful undiluted soothes a child's sore throat.

PS If by unlucky chance (or an overexuberant grandchild) a pinch of itching powder, the fluff inside a raw hip that protects the seeds from predators, applies itself to bare skin, don't try to scrub it off, but squish it hard with a potato masher and blow it away.