ROSEHIPS DOWN THE ROAD
Rosehips, the fruit of the rose, are abundant around Ireland this time of year and I only have to walk down the lane to find them. They grow wild and are mixed into the tangle of briars, hazel and blackberry that form the local hedgerows.
These particular variety are the bright red rosehips from the Dog Rose, or Rosa rugosa, a very pretty rose, which grows wild pretty much everywhere around here.
MEMORIES OF MY MOTHER
I was inspired to go picking rosehips by memories of my mother who occasionally made it for us when we were small. She believed it was great for children and used to tell me about being given rosehips in the form of syrup as a child. They had no sweets on those times and she particularly remembered enjoying the sweetness of the rosehip syrup as being a rare treat.
She grew up in wartime Liverpool and with the war preventing access to imported fruit, the government advised people to pick rosehips and make syrup.
The reason for this was that Rosehips are a great source of vitamin C as well as Lycopene and lots of other goodies. If you are interested in learning more about the benefits of rosehips there are lots of websites with information and you could start with Wikipedia.
If you are going out rosehip picking be very careful to make sure that it is rosehips you are picking and not some similar looking berry that could be poisonous.
You also would be better off wearing gloves, as the thorns are sharp and it is hard to avoid scratches. If you are sensitive to these things like me you might find the scratches swell and become quite irritating – so again don’t forget your gloves. I learned the hard way – scratch, scratch!
You also need a strong bag to carry the rosehips in, as your bog-standard supermarket plastic bag will be shredded in no time.
BRING MARY POPPINS
The other thing I recommend is a stick, or something you can pull down high branches down with. An umbrella with a Mary Poppins type handle or golfing umbrella is really useful for this, as you will probably find that the juiciest hips are just an inch or two out of reach.
The inside of the rosehip contains hairs that can be very irritating to us and are used as itching powder – so be careful of this also.
I picked a couple of pounds altogether and I made syrup using the same easy method my mother used to use. My mother use to write down recipes in a notebook and I believe she got some of them from her own mother.
I like reading her notes from time to time. They are written in her lovely handwriting and are battered, faded and stained, so it feels to me like the paper ahs somehow soaked in some small part of my mother’s energy and love.
I mostly don’t really enjoy cooking, actually I’ll be honest I mostly hate cooking but occasionally a certain mood takes me over and I will make up my mind to make something and this week it was rosehip syrup.
Have fun rosehipping!