|Rose Hip Syrup|
I love spending time in the countryside during Autumn -the larder that nature offers is abundantly full at this time of year. The hedgerows are dripping with berries just begging to be picked and the possibilities are endless when you get them into the kitchen. There is always a sense of achievement when creating anything in the kitchen, this for me is heightened when I can create something with free food. 'Food for free' is a term bandied around quite a lot these days and in these days it is a term that holds more weight, in my eyes, considering the current economic state of our country. Indeed if we indulge in the media, the monetary situation can seem overwhelmingly depressing and for me doing some foraging is a sort of two fingers up to the whole thing. Living in the city these foraging opportunities are even more special. Dublin is a small capital city, as far as capital cities go and this is great for those of us who live here, because there are foraging opportunities on our doorstep. Howth, St. Annes Park and Phoenix Park all have free food waiting for you, so get out there and start picking!
|From L-R; Sloes, Haws, Crab Apples & Rose Hips|
Rose hips are the fruit of the wild rose, they are bursting with vitamin C, which is probably the most important vitamin for the Winter months -so needless to say this is a fantastic store cupboard item. As a child we called them 'itchy backs' because the seeds and fibres inside can be irritating to our skin. I recall an incident in Primary School when one boy put them down another boys back -for a laugh -but it wasn't very funny for the victim! This recipe is adapted from one that The Ministry of Defence circulated during WWII, parents were encouraged to give it to their children. You can make a hot drink out of the syrup, take it straight off the spoon or add it to cocktails.
- First take 500g of rose hips, wash them under cold water and mince them up in a food processor if you have one otherwise use a knife - I wore latex gloves for the chopping.
- Bring 800ml of water to the boil, add the chopped rose hips, bring back to the boil, remove from the heat and allow to infuse for 15 mins.
- Next drain through a jelly bag or muslin and allow to drip for one hour
- Bring another 800mls of water to the boil and repeat the process, allowing the the rose hips to drip through overnight
- The next day put your liquid in a pan and add 550g of caster sugar, dissolve and boil for 2-3 mins
- Bottle in sterilised jars or a container of your choice -use within 4 months
- To sterilise jars/bottles; wash in hot soapy water, pop into oven at 200'C for a few minutes
Make sure you use a reliable guide when foraging. The wild rose can be recognised by it's oval shaped leaves and of course the thorns!