While out walking with Ruby in our usual spot, I noticed, along the hedgerow, these beautiful bright red rose-hips.
"Oooooo", I thought, "Freebies, what can I make with those?"
And pocketed myself a bagful of the fragrant berry things. Now these things don't really want to be picked, they have spiky thorns on their stems which dig in your fingers and make you yelp.
During some research I discovered that Rose Hips have LOADS of health benefits and lots more Vitamin C than oranges. They were planted on the sides of housing estates during the war so people could collect and cook with them - maybe you can find some in a hedgerow near you.
My Mum grew up in the Lake District and she told me that on the long walk to school all the children used to pick the Rose Hips and take them into school where they would be paid a few pennies. Then a truck used to appear to collect them and take them away to be processed. I love stories like this :)
I wee while ago I bought this book, Booze for Free by Andy Hamilton, and I scooted through it to find a Rosehip recipe - the only one was wine and it was a bit messy to be honest, with fermenting buckets and the like, so I decided on syrup which I could add to some gin... or vodka.
So, after a wee bit of Googling I found the River Cottage recipe was going to work best for me - minimal effort and all that.
I washed the hips.
Then weighed them in at 600g.
Have you ever seen the inside of a Rose Hip? No,me neither, they look awfully like they should be hot and chilli-fied. I was scared to touch anything after cutting this one up.
Using my Kenwood Smoothie Maker - certainly not ideal for the job as you can only chop a few at a time, but it did do the trick. I have since purchased a proper chopper - well, when I say purchased, Hubster was buying some new t-shirts in Tesco and I popped it into his basket. I don't think he noticed, even though it filled the basket. If he did, he said nothing. ;)
Hey, chillies!! No, Rose Hips.
Chillies? No, still Rose Hips.
The recipe calls for 1.25 litres of water per 1kg of hips, so I worked out that my hips at 600g would be 750ml, personally, I don't think this was enough so added a splash or two more. Simmered it for about 15/20 mins.
Then strained it through some muslin and left it to drip for an hour or so.
The recipe says to wash out the muslin and restrain it, which I did, but it went smoothly through with nothing caught second time round.
Measuring the liquid I ended up with around 300ml.
For every 500ml you need to add 325g of sugar, which works out at 65g per 100ml - I had 300ml so added 195g of caster sugar with the juice into a pan and brought it to the boil before simmering for 3/5 minutes.
Then I popped it into a Nutella jar that had been washed in boiling water and dried in the hot oven.
It's blooming delicious, let me tell you. I need to hide it from myself or I might be tempted to keep on tasting it.
Now to go buy some gin :)