Rosehip Syrup

A few weeks ago I decided to indulge my frugal instincts and make Rosehip syrup. During WW2, with regular sources of vitamin C hard to come by, the Ministry of Health promoted the collection of rosehips in its wartime pamphlet ‘Hedgerow Harvest’. With oranges off the menu, the Ministry saw rosehip syrup as an ideal way to get vitamins into young children, as the hips contain up to 20 times more vitamin C than oranges, as well as a healthy dose of vitamin A and iron.

The process itself wasn’t that difficult, although harvesting them did involve tackling a very thorny rose, so gloves and long sleeves are recommended. Then it was just a question of getting them back to the kitchen, chopping off any remaining stems and giving them a good wash before blasting them in a food processor.

I loosely followed this River Cottage recipe, but halved the quantity of sugar as I like things quite tart, but I suggest tasting as you go to reach your preferred sweetness.

So after adding the now roughly chopped rosehips to water (just enough to cover) and simmering at a low temperature for around 15 mins, it was time to strain them. As you can see in the picture, rosehips contain a lot of seeds, as well as an array of potentially irritating little hairs, which obviously you don’t want to swallow. Straining is therefore crucial if you want to create something edible. I still haven’t got around to buying a muslin though, and if you’re just doing this as a one off then a jay cloth, thin tea towel or any other clean cotton material will do just fine. As you can see, I also added some pegs to keep everything in place.

I then left the contents, which at this point looked like a thick tomato sauce with maggots in it, to strain slowly for 30 minutes, before adding a dash more water and giving it a good squeeze to get out any remaining juices. I then repeated the process one more time, though for a more impatient 15 minutes, before returning the strained juice to a clean saucepan and adding spoonfuls of sugar, tasting as I went until I reached my preferred sweetness.

Next, let the syrup simmer for a few minutes until all the sugar has dissolved, before decanting it into a sterlised bottle. The end result was a warm orangey red in colour and really quite delicious, so if you’ve got a rose in your back garden or know of one on some public land nearby, then get picking soon.

And given that we’re not exactly short of vitamin C sources these days, I can recommend some more decadent uses for it, namely adding it to cocktails and prosecco or drizzling it over ice-cream. Not so frugal after all…

 

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Dandelion Pesto

I meant to make a lot of recipes with dandelions back in April and May, when they were actually flowering, but being the disorganised soul that I am, I got round to doing it today (5th June 2016)

So that wasn’t quite as cringe as I expected it to be…though I clearly need to work on my camera and lighting skillz.

I did forget to mention how much of each ingredient I included though, and while a lot of it was guesswork, I did weigh the dandelion leaves, so here’s roughly what went in:

150g dandelion leaves

50g Italian Hard Cheese

50g pine nuts (toasted)

2 garlic cloves 

A few good sloshes of olive oil 

A scattering of salt 

A grind or two of pepper 

I had it with some pasta and a bit more cheese, and while it was definitely more tangy than basil pesto, once it was mixed with some hot pasta, this wasn’t a bad thing. Plus it tasted a hell of a lot nicer than the stuff you get out of a jar, so if your lawn is as overgrown as mine, give it a go.

Oh, and while I did need to pee afterwards, it wasn’t an emergency situation! So all’s well that ends well!

Is everything fine and dandy?

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Dandelion: a widely distributed weed of the daisy family, with large bright yellow flowers followed by globular heads of seeds with downy tufts [Taraxacum officinale and related species.]

Origin ME from Fr. Dent-de-lion ‘lion’s tooth’ (because of the jagged shape of the leaves.)

– Concise Oxford English Dictionary

What a cool name eh? If my name meant lion’s tooth I’d be a happy bunny. Cheerful, full of the joys of spring and yet considered a nuisance when it pops up in your immaculate lawn, the dandelion has secured an unfair reputation as a ‘common’ garden weed. Nicknamed Pis-en-lit (wet the bed) by the French due to their supposed diuretic qualities (they increase the amount of urine the body creates), the common dandelion has been consumed for food and medicinal purposes for a very long time indeed. Rich in Vitamins A, B, C and D, as well as Iron, Potassium and Zinc, all of the plant can be safely consumed, including the roots, which can be roasted and ground up into a powder to use as a caffeine-free coffee substitute. The leaves can be eaten in salads, though some people complain that they’re too bitter, so it’s best to go for the younger ones, and the flowers themselves can be cooked, eaten raw, or made into dandelion wine (though you’ll need to collect a lot for this). I’ll be experimenting with different ways to eat and cook these plants over the next few days, as my overgrown lawn is currently full of them, but until then, here’s some info about their supposed medicinal qualities.

Due to their diuretic nature (as a child I thought you’d piss yourself if you even picked one) dandelions have often been used to aid kidney and liver problems. They’re also said to possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities and they were widely used in Native American, Chinese and European medicine for many centuries. Beware though if you’re taking medications, their diuretic nature may speed up the passage of medication through your body, meaning you won’t get the chance to absorb it properly.

And of course, the seed heads of dandelions can be used as accurate clocks. Obvs.

Check back in the next few days for my first vlog, some dandelion cooking advice, and to see whether they actually taste nice or not.

Hopefully I won’t pee myself on camera…