Sunday, 4 October 2009

Rose Hip Syrup

Baby boomers and other old dears may remember some of the earlier offerings of the National Health Service, such as National Orange Juice, National Dried Milk, and Delrosa Rose Hip Syrup. (Actually the last one wasn't on the NHS, but it seemed like it). My mother doled out spoonfuls of it daily, together with cod liver oil and malt extract, and some sinister beige stuff called Scott's Emulsion, but that was only for my brother to build him up because he was skinny. Most of these things were heavily sugared, and we loved them as a sweet treat even though they were supposed to be "medicine".

And although they are mostly now out of fashion, cod liver oil is still an excellent food supplement for most people, and rose hip syrup is said to contain twenty times more vitamin C than oranges as well as vitamins A, B1, 2 and 3, vitamin K, flavonoids, polyphenols, volatile oils and tannins (it says here)

Of course it's a bit more trouble to make than peeling an orange, but it also makes an excellent dessert sauce for pouring on pancakes, or ice cream so you could actually be having that portion of pudding purely for the benefit of your health, which sounds like a  plan to me. The flavour is fruity and sweet (much fruitier than the Delrosa I remember from my childhood) And once again, apart from the cost of a bit of sugar it's yours for the taking, free from your local hedgerow.


In case you have any confusion about what a rose hip is, or perhaps you don't know your hips from your haws, here's a rather blurry picture of some common hedgerow fruit for identification. Left to right, cultivated damsons from my garden, wild damsons, bullaces (wild plums), wild rose hips, and haws or hawthorn berries. I meant to get some sloes as well, for comparison, but I forgot, they would be similar to the wild damson in colour, but a bit smaller, and more oval shape, and a great deal more bitter.



Rose Hip Syrup
This is taken from the recipe issued by the Ministry of Food during the second world war. You will need about 2 lbs of rose hips (I suspect you can probably use hips from garden roses which are often much bigger, but the wartime recipe refers to wild rose hips- make sure that they are unsprayed and not near traffic pollution)




Whizz the hips in a food processor( the wartime recipe said mince, but the processor makes life easier)


 and tip into a pan with 3 pints of boiling water. Bring back to the boil and turn out the heat.

Leave for 15 minutes then strain through a jelly bag or muslin. Return the pulp to the pan, add another pint and a half of water, bring to the boil again and leave another 10 minutes before straining again. Make sure you strain out all the sharp little hairs in the seeds (which apparently make an excellent itching powder for little Beadle tricksters).

Put all your juice into a pan and boil down until you have about a pint and a half, and then add one and a half pounds of sugar. Boil for 5 minutes and then pour into sterilized bottles and cap. Keep in the fridge once opened.

You'll be needing something to pour your lovely syrup over....




American Style Pancakes
Back in the 80s we ran a village pub for a while, and one of the most popular desserts was American Style Pancakes with Maple Syrup, served I'm ashamed to say with great piles of whipped cream from an aerosol can. Well it was the 80s. Anyway the pancakes were and still are delicious and make an excellent vehicle for your stash of Rose Hip Syrup, and that pocketful of blackberries you picked while walking the dog this morning.

You will need

8 ounces plain flour
pinch salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
half teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1 egg
third of a pint milk

Tip everything into the food processor and blend only enough to make a thick smooth batter.







(You may have noticed from my other recipes that I don't make two steps where one can do. There's no need to make things more complicated than necessary. However, for the equipment-less, measure the dry ingredients into a bowl, make a well in the middle and stir in the liquids).



Grease a frying pan and drop large spoonfuls of the batter on to it. Cook over medium heat until little bubbles form on the surface, and then flip over with a spatula and cook the other side until golden and set. You are aiming for a big fat pancake, which at the same time is light and fluffy, not the anaemic  flabby examples offered in supermarkets. If you feel like it you can stir in a handful or two of any fresh berries, blackberries would be good just now, or serve them fresh with the pancakes after cooking.

Serve your hot pancakes drizzled with  your  lovely Rose Hip Syrup (or honey, or maple syrup) and top with good ice cream or a pile of softly whipped fresh cream, just as you fancy, but definately nothing from an aerosol.

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