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Dog roses are one of the most underrated flowers that appear in the spring, the petals of which can be used to make wild rose lokum (Turkish delight).

As the summer wears on, the petals will drop off to be replaced by the seedpod, the rosehip.

Two dog rose flowers with pink petals
Dog-rose flowers. © Clara Nila/Getty

Round, red and quite hard, these sweet little pods make the most amazing syrup. Their vibrant colour comes from lycopene and beta carotene, the same chemicals which make tomatoes red and carrots orange respectively.

Weight for weight, rosehips have over 20 times more vitamin C than oranges, and contain many other nutrients.

If you fancy doing more foraging, head over to our foraging hub for advice on sustainable foraging, the best foraging books and recipe ideas including how to make sloe gin, how to make fruit balsamic vinegar and how to make hazelnut butter.

Rosehips. © Claire Plumridge/Getty

When to pick rosehips

Typically, rosehips are left on the bush until after the first frost which helps them to ripen, making them slightly softer and sweeter. However, they should be harvested before a hard frost and any shrivelled ones left for the birds and any other wildlife.

Why do rosehips have irritating hairs?

Rosehips may be small and mighty, packing a nutritious punch but they also have irritating hairs in their fleshy, seed containing centre. Seemingly innocuous, these itch inducing hairs have traditionally been used in itching powders.

Rosehip syrup is an easy way to make the most of these vibrant coloured beauties whilst avoiding the itch. Multiple straining in recipe is a good idea to get rid of these troublesome hairs.

Ingredients

  • 1kg Rosehips
  • 500g Granulated sugar
  • 1 ½l Water

Method

  • STEP 1

    Wash and shake your freshly picked rosehips, to remove any unwanted critters or dirt. Then pop them in the freezer overnight: this mimics a frost and will soften the fruit, leaving them sweet and juicy. Defrost before use.

  • STEP 2

    Chop your rosehips into a nice pulp, using a blender preferably, or sharp knife. You may need to do this in batches. Pop them in a saucepan and cover with water, about 1.5 litres should be plenty. Bring to the boil, then allow to simmer for 15-2o minutes.

  • STEP 3

    Strain the pulp through the muslin into a bowl, allowing plenty of time for all of the liquid to drip through. You can gently squeeze the cloth to help it along, but don't rush this step. Some recipes recommend straining the liquid again to ensure that the irritating hairs have been removed.

  • STEP 4

    Once your liquid is nice and clear, it's time to add the sugar. Measure how much syrup you've got, then return to the pan. For every 100ml of liquid, add about 60g of sugar.

    Heat very slowly and skim off any scum that forms on top. Once the sugar has dissolved, you have your syrup!

  • STEP 5

    Decant into sterilised glass bottles and keep in the refrigerator to ensure it stars fresh. Serve over ice cream, as a sweetener in cocktails, or to give yoghurt an autumnal twist.


This is a recipe from 365 Days Wild by Lucy McRobert, published by Harper Collins Publishers.

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365 Days Wild by Lucy McRobert

Main image: Rosehip syrup. © Gloria Nichol/Getty

Authors

Lucy McRobertWildlife storyteller, communications expert and writer

Lucy McRobert is the Communications Manager at the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust, the author 365 Days Wild, and columnist for Birdwatch magazine

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