Stop to smell the rosehips
I’ll be the first to admit to reaching for my rose coloured glasses whenever the notion of foraging is mentioned, but there really is a lot to be said for gathering what you might otherwise whiz past roadside. Food for the taking. Olives polka-dotting trees, gnarly old quinces hanging like lanterns, and rosehips that announce their whereabouts via your nasal passages well before you spot their perfectly muted red tones in the landscape. How good do rosehips smell?! Such a distinctive mix of sweet and sour. Which is exactly how it tastes. But beyond drying them for tea (which we do), there’s not a lot that I have come across to make the most of a glut of ripe rosehips – until I discovered shrubs. The non-bushy kind.
Shrubs are a perfectly old-fashioned way of drawing out, and preserving the flavours of fruit, into an apple cider vinegar based syrup. Then all that stands between you and your inner mixologist is a bottle of bubbly water and a particularly pretty glass. Here’s how I’ve been making our little ode to Autumn foraging…
Wild Rosehip Shrub
2 cups rosehips, stripped clean of leaves and branches
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 to 2 cups natural sugar
To make the shrub, simply bring the vinegar to the boil, add the sugar and continue to boil until dissolved. Then remove from heat and put the rosehips into the hot vinegar/sugar liquid.
Pour into a jar and cover, leaving in a cool, dark place for 2-3 weeks.
Taste, and if the rosehips have steeped for long enough to draw their flavour out to your liking, then strain them out of the syrup and pour into a sterilised bottle. Store in the fridge and add to soda, kombucha or whatever might take your fancy, in the same way you would a cordial.