Now is the time to go out gathering rosehips, the fruit of our native wild Dog Rose, (Rosa canina). Once the frosts have come, the previously rock-hard hips are ‘bletted’ , which means they go soft and ripe, ready for picking. So how can you recognize when they are ready? It’ll take a bit of trial and error, but soon you will notice the ripe ones have gone from red and very shiny to a matte, duller finish. As soon as you touch it it will be squidgy and come off the stem easily…though also check whether the hip has ‘gone over’ – runny liquid and smell should let you know soon enough!
Once you’ve picked a load, traditional recipes involve boiling them down in just enough water to cover and adding sugar, which makes a lovely jam, but gets rid of all that lovely Vitamin C that rosehips are famous for. (Rosehips contain 5 times more Vitamin C weight by weight than oranges, and were part of out staple diet during WW1 and 2.)
You can also make a raw rosehip syrup – stuff a sterilised jam jar with alternate layers of uncooked rose hips and white sugar. Prick the rose hips with a fork first to help things along. Make sure the last layer on top is sugar.
For immediate gratification, healthy eating and artistic flair, try my Ravishing Rosehip Crudites recipe.
(Not to blow my own trumpet too much…)
You will need:
Thinly sliced rye sourdough,
bletted (soft ) rosehips,
soft cheese such as Philadelphia or vegan scheese,
butter or margarine,
1)Toast the sourdough slices,butter them and cut into 3cm squares.
2)Dollop the soft cheese into a piping bag (or, if your’e not into fripperies, make your own out of a plastic document wallet, as I did)
3)Squeeze a blob of soft cheese onto each little rye toast.
4)Pointing the end which came off the stem down (you will see the hole,not the scruffy little star thing), squeeze the red paste out of the rose hip and onto the soft cheese blob. This can be fiddly! IMPORTANT: Do not eat the seeds! They make you itch! Give the rest of the rosehip back to the wild.
5)Cut one round of cucumber into tiny little pizza wedge slices (8 is a nice number). Garnish each crudite with a cucumber wedge pushed into the cheese, and arrange some rose hips. A voilà!
6)Enjoy with drinks of choice!