We may be short of sloes and the blackberries may be getting smaller and harder to find, but this year the hedges around the farm are laden with rosehips. So, what to do with them? Every year, I pick a few to make rosehip syrup but I thought I should try something more imaginative with this bumper crop. The hips turn from hard and unwielding to soft and wrinkled in a very short space of time but I try to pick them when they’ve just softened.The rosa rugosa in the garden soften earliest and maybe because they’re plumper than the wild roses, seem to stay at the soft stage for a bit longer.
Once picked, the rosehips need to be cooked. Remove the stalks and put equal quantities of ripe rosehips and water into a saucepan (about 500g of each), bring to the boil and simmer for an hour until the rosehips are well and truly soft. Mash them a little and push them through a sieve to get rid of the seeds and fine hairs from inside the hips. You’ll now have a autumnal looking puree.
Before it’s sweetened, the rose hip puree has a sharp, acidic taste rather like tomatoes. The ones from the garden, in the photo above, even look like tomatoes. I found a recipe for rosehip soup, which I tried but wasn’t much impressed by. I tinkered with the recipe but everyone got fed up with rosehip soup so I thought I should move on. That’s the trouble with such short picking seasons – it’s a bit all or nothing. But the idea stuck in the back of my mind and when I saw the recipe for Pumpkin & Tomato Soup at Mrs Thomasina Tittlemouse, I knew it would be a winner. Follow Elizabeth’s instructions, but replace the tomatoes with rosehip puree. Pumpkin & Rosehip Soup. Delicious. And I’m sure some of the vitamin C from the rosehips remains.
For a creamy little rosehip dessert, take 120g of the puree, add 2 dessertspoons of sugar, a very good pinch of cinnamon, a squeeze of lemon juice and mix together. Fold into 150ml of softly whipped cream and spoon into little pots for Rosehip Fool. I had some left over so used it to make Top Hat fairy cakes – cut out a cylinder from the middle of the fairy cake, spoon the cream into the hole and replace the cylinder to make a top hat.
What next? I could make itching powder from the seeds – apparently drying the seeds makes the fine hairs on them even itchier – but I’m looking for more culinary inspiration. Any ideas?