Putting aside my liking for the songs of Lou Reed (amazing how these things resurface when needed!), I promised the results of my trial of Rosehip Jelly and will throw in my Rosehip Syrup for good measure. I'm finding both invaluable at the moment for warding off colds and winter ailments as rosehips are believed to contain considerably more vitamin C than just about any other food you can think of.
I've made rosehip cordial before but not jam/jelly. I found it quite confusing sorting out the ratios of hips to apples and sugar; it seemed that every recipe I found called for something different. The recipe that first got my attention was in the October issue of 'Grow Your Own' mag. They call it Rosehip Jam and use twice the weight of rosehips to apples plus lemon juice. Apples are needed for their pectin to get a good set.
I also had a day out at RHS Wisley (wonderful, wonderful); a quick look in a foragers' recipe book there contrarily recommended using twice the amount of apples to rosehips! Across a range of recipes, sugar quantities varied, as did method. I discovered that the Wisley recipe was the same as one used by the Women's Institute and so plumped for that one.
A large saucepan will do just as well as a preserving pan - I use a 4 litre stockpot - but it must not be iron or aluminium as this will destroy the vitamin C and turn the hips black! I also don't have a jelly straining bag; instead I use muslin squares but a tea towel would do as well, as long as they're washed and ironed well to sterilise the cloth. Jars can be sterilised by washing and put straight into a warm oven (150C) to dry for about 20 minutes, the lids should be boiled for about 5 minutes.
I strain the boiled pulp by placing a muslin cloth in a large sieve, pouring the pulp in, then gathering up the corners and tying them firmly through the handle of one of my wall kitchen cupboards in order to raise it above the bowl underneath. This is then left to drip for at least 2 hours, or overnight. Various recipes advise not to squeeze the pulp bag to extract the last bit of juice as this makes the jelly cloudy. Well, I couldn't help myself as I don't like waste and my juice cleared when I added the sugar at the jam making stage so I wouldn't worry about that!
It might seem a faff but it's easily done in an evening and you have a delicious jelly that can't be bought in the shops! Rosehips have a very subtle flavour and the finished jelly is delicious on toast.
Here's the WI recipe I used:
500grams of prepared rosehips
1kg unpeeled cooking apples
1lb of granulated sugar for every 1 pint of juice (or 450g to every 560ml)
Chop the apples and put in the pan, seeds and skin included. Add the topped and tailed rosehips. Cover with water so that the apples are just floating, bring to the boil and simmer until the rosehips are soft. (This can take anything up to an hour and quarter.) Stir occasionally and squish down with a potato masher to help break up the hips.
Strain the pulp through a muslin cloth into a bowl, leaving to drip for at least a couple of hours. Gently squeezing the bag at the end will probably release quite a bit more juice!
Carefully untie the bag and throw the pulp into the compost. Pour the juice into a jug to measure it. Work out how much sugar should be added (see ingredients). Put sugar and juice into a pan and heat gently to let the sugar dissolve completely. Bring to the boil and leave on a rolling boil (like jam) until a set is reached. This is likely to be around 15 to 25 minutes.
Test on a cold saucer (put a couple in the freezer before boiling up the juice) by putting a teaspoonful onto the cold saucer, leave for 2 minutes and run your finger or a spoon through the jam. If it wrinkles slightly, the jelly is at setting point; if not, continue boiling for another 5 minutes and test again.
Skim the mixture and pot up into the jars as soon as ready. Carefully (so's not to burn fingers) put the lids on and they will seal tight while the jelly is setting. Leave to cool before labelling. The jelly will last unopened for several months or for a few weeks once opened. I had 2 small jars and one jam jar from this recipe.
The 'Grow Your Own' recipe calls for the following ingredients, using the same method:
900g Rosehips, 450g apples (or 600ml apple juice), Juice of 2 lemons, water, sugar.
The lemon juice is added to the strained juice; 350g sugar is added for every 600ml of juice.
If you'd rather make Rosehip Cordial for adding to drinks (1part cordial to 5 parts water) or ice-cream, it's practically the same method, without the apples. Here's how:
Take 1 kg of rosehips, remove stalks and toss into a food processor. Chop briefly. Add hips to a pan containing 2½ pints water. Bring to the boil and boil, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Strain through muslin (as before) for at least 2 hours. Reserve the juice and add the pulp to the remaining 2 pints of water. Bring to the boil and boil for 15 minutes. Strain through muslin. Put all the juice into a clean pan, add 1lb of sugar and heat gently until sugar has completely dissolved. Bring to the boil and boil for 10 minutes before decanting to warm, sterilised bottles.
this link to Vergette Gardens who has discovered a vintage handwritten recipe in an old gardening book which, in my opinion, gives it an excellent provenance!
My own sloes were picked and washed at the beginning of September, put into the freezer to emulate several frosty, skin softening nights, then pricked and put in a Kilner jar. Sugar was added until it came half way up the fruit then vodka poured in until the jar was full. Sealed and put into a dark cupboard, I give it a little shake about once a week. It should be ready by December but will improve on keeping. Nigel Slate recommends adding a splash to your cooking; for example, apple and plum crumble or even gravy it perked up with this. On the other hand, you can always just drink it!