Roses of all varieties are one of my all time favourites, the flavor can be so delicate and fragrant and add so much to dishes both savoury and sweet.
I’m not interested in an artificial or heavily perfumed taste in my food, so making it at home really means I can control this incredible flavour.
I also have a dish in mind, made from fresh cheese, rhubarb vinegar, rosehip oil and syrup...
On the subject of roses more generally, there was a very interesting dish developed at noma made from an egg yolk cured with beef garum, small discs of potato, rose pulp and elderflower. Eggs, potato and flowers? Not a combination expected to be quite as pleasing as it was.
Rosehip Syrup – Cooked.
1. Place the rosehips in a saucepan with approximately half of the water and bring the water to the boil. Once the water is boiling fully, cook for 15-20 minutes, look to see that the rosehips have started to really soften and break down slightly.
2. Next, strain the liquid through muslin into a clean bowl or container and leave the liquid to sit until cool, approx. 45 mins to 1 hour.
3. Return the pulp to the pan and add the remaining water, again bringing to the boil and cook for a further 15-20 minutes, the point being to extract as much flavour as possible.
4. Strain the second batch and add to the first batch.
5. Place the combined liquids back in a clean pan and boil to reduce the liquid by half. If you are looking for a more intense syrup, then you can continue to reduce this liquid even further. At this stage, and also depending on the use of your syrup, you can make a decision. If the liquid you have obtained is cloudy, then that is ok if clarity is not an issue. However, if you do want or need a perfectly clear rosehip syrup, then you can at this stage freeze the mixture. Then turn it out as a solid block of ice so that it thaws and passes through a couple of layers of muslin into a container below. This will clarify your liquid and leave you with a perfectly clear mixture that you can then heat back up to the boil and pick up the following stages. I would suggest that depending on the colour of your syrup, you may want to leave it cloudy as it is part of the charm, but this process is good for reference.
6. Once the liquid has reduced sufficiently, add your sugar. Again, note that the sweetness of the syrup that you want will be determined by how much you put in but also that the greater the quantity of sugar in the syrup, the longer it will preserve for. I suggest that 1kg is right for 1kg fruit. Once the sugar has all dissolved, let the syrup boil for a further 5 minutes, allow it to cool and then place in sterilized jars or containers.
The alternative Rosehip syrup method is very simple, the wait is much longer, but the end product has not been subject to any heat and so therefore it is ‘raw’ and perfect for advocates of the raw food diet. You retain all it’s nutrients and goodness, and believe me, there is a lot to retain. Sixty times more vitamin C than in orange; there is a reason why, in times past, many families made their own rosehip syrup and give their children a daily spoonful as it was known this provided a base This method was described to me by Chris from Ipso-Phyto, an incredible London based forager– check out his website here.
Rosehip Syrup - Raw
Take equal quantities of Rosehips and Sugar and layer these in a container, and leave for approximately 6 months. If the Rosehips are not as ripe as you would like, then score them to help the extraction process. The sugar will work to slowly extract all the flavour and the result will be a beautiful pink syrup that you shouldn’t even need to pass as the hips have been left whole. §I’m pretty certain that you could then use the rosehips themselves and dehydrate them to make some further goodies, but we shall see how I get on with that one in 6 or 7 months time….
Now onto the good stuff…. Rosehip Brandy…
approx 1kg rosehips (depending on ripeness and also your preference) to 1.5L Brandy and 300g sugar. Sugar can be white or brown – take your pick depending on the richness you want in your brandy. If you go for brown, expect a slightly more caramelised flavour.
1) Wash Rosehips
3) Place rosehips in a sterilised container or jar, the one you wish to keep your brandy in, then cover with sugar and place in a cool place overnight.
4) Pour your brandy over the mixture the following day and add your flavourings of choice. Common flavourings are cinnamon and cloves and a touch of lemon peel. I would suggest that infusing your brandy with some Wood Avens, if you can find some, would add that extra medicinal quality to your brandy, but if not, then straight up cloves will be just perfect. I like the idea of adding a touch of cinnamon, perhaps a 3 inch piece of stick, a few cloves, maybe 1 or 2 as I am not such a clove fan, and a small amount of lemon , orange or grapefruit peel, perhaps half a fruits worth, or less. I would also, if you have some, add some rosehip syrup for extra intensity.
5) Seal the container and let it stand for a minimum of 2 weeks in a light place.
6) Once you are happy your liquor is sufficiently infused, strain and pass into the bottle(s) or container(s) of your choice, and allow to stand for a least a further month prior to serving.
So there we have it, some rosehip goodness for the month of October and some festive brandy merriment for when the cold, harsh winter months hit….
Or really, just an excuse to share this bad boy round and eat it with some cheese….