These moreish, slightly red-tinged rosehip crackers are a winner. Made with dehydrated, wild rosehip flesh, they have a burst of vitamin C and a subtle tart tang to them.
How to make rosehip crackers
To make them I used my rosehip fruit leather (a great way to store and snack on the goodness of rosehips). Fruit leather can have a variety of textures, from sticky and sweet to brittle and more savoury like.
Admittedly, by accident I created a very dry (oops), leathery, fruit leather. Fortunately it is perfect for savoury recipes and a little reminiscent of sun-dried tomatoes. Made from Japanese rosehips (Rosa rugosa) which are similar to tomatoes for some people. Perfect for this!
Sometimes I find a recipe which I absolutely love, like this one. I then adapt it and often create several wild varieties. My first wild variety of this was my Blackberry, Dulse and Buckwheat crackers.
You can find this step-by-step Blackberry-seeded cracker recipe and read about its story here.
Wild Rosehip and Buckwheat Crackers Recipe
Crisp crackers with the delightful flavours of tangy rosehip, roasted buckwheat, and textured oats. They're filling and a great base for lots of toppings.
Makes 25 rustic crackers
- 3 tbsp powder rosehip fruit leather
- 100 g oatmeal (powdered porridge oats)
- 200 g buckwheat flour
- 200 g roasted buckwheat grains
- Large pinch of sea salt
- 2 tbsp oil (vegetable, olive oil or half and half of each)
- 200-230 ml water
Preparing the rosehip fruit leather
Fruit leather can last for months, I used a dry, brittle fruit leather, cut it into small pieces and ground in a strong pestle and mortar or you can use a seed/spice grinder.
In a large mixing bowl mix all the ingredients except the water. Add the water gradually until it makes a workable dough and set aside for half an hour to allow the moisture to be absorbed.
Roll the dough out between two pieces of grease-proof paper to the thickness of the buckwheat seeds. If the dough is a little sticky, you can add more oatmeal. At this stage you can decide whether to use a biscuit cutter or hand-cut the crackers to a desired shape. I find hand-cutting the dough to any shape easier.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C and place a clean baking sheet on a large baking tray or two. Place the cut dough shapes on the paper. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden and the moisture is evaporated. Turn them over halfway through to help them cook and dry out. Place on a cooling rack and when cool, store in an airtight container.
Delicious with cheese, wild spring leaves and seaweed sauerkraut from my seaweed book. Feel free to browse my other wild recipes, or I'd love to meet you on one of my foraging courses here in Cornwall.
Nature isn't always subtle and for good reason. Colourful petals draw a bee towards a flower's nectar-filled centre, a bright white tail of a rabbit confuses its predator during a chase, a colourfully feathered bird attracts a mate.
Colour is one of the first things my eyes register when I'm given a drink or a plate of food, smell comes second. Scientific research confirms too, that we often eat with our eyes.
Not surprisingly, it was the outrageous pink followed by the familiar scent of elderflowers that my senses delighted in when making this cordial. My memory bank of colours, tastes and smells noted a while ago that rose was a flavour for me, mixed with pink elderflowers I was super excited!
This is an easy cordial to make, with a stunning colour and aromatic scent of rose and elderflowers. Dilute for drinks, turn into elderflower champagne or use is desserts.
Pink Elderflower and Rose Cordial Recipe
I adapted this recipe to the amount of pink edlerflower (Gerda) heads I could reach and the number of rose petals that would come away easily in my hand. Double it, if you choose, freeze it, drink it, enjoy!
Makes 750 ml
- 10 elder flower heads (flowers forked off stems)
- Handful of rose petals (fragrant ones)
- 200 g unrefined sugar
- 500 ml boiling water
- 1 unwaxed lemon
- 1 oz citric acid (if you’re going to store the cordial for a while)
Ideally pick the flowers in full sun. Fork the flowers off the stalks or snip off the main stalks, putting flowers aside and discarding the rest. Place the elderflowers and rose petals (check to remove bugs) in a heatproof bowl or container, along with the sugar. Pour over the boiling water. Squeeze in the juice of one lemon and leave for 24 hours.
Strain the mixture through a sieve, or preferably a fine muslin cloth, and funnel into clean bottles, or dilute and serve immediately!
I run foraging courses throughout the year, helping you discover the colours and flavours of each season. You can view dates and content here on my foraging course calendar.
I also offer a monthly membership where I send you recipes each month as I go through my wild and seasonal year. Sign up is easy - view membership blogs here and see what you could access.
I used to walk round my Granny’s garden and smell the roses, my sisters and I used to snap off her runner beans and eat them raw too. Luckily for Granny, I didn’t know that roses were edible then, though I still love to stop to smell them, whether in a park, someone’s garden or a hedgerow.
Roses make my heart sing, they truly do. From the scent through to the texture of the petals, they are an edible heaven to me. Eat them fresh OR this recipe is ridiculously easy and super good. It was given to me by my colleague Emma Gunn and you can't go wrong with it. Unless you don't like roses.
In this post I share the recipe, explain when to pick roses (and why) which is the best rose to eat (and my favourite) and how to use this delicious rose preserve.
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The first frost is a significant marker in the colder months of the year. Whether you look forward to it or dread it, it has an important function for wild fruits, us and the rest of the natural world.
Previously I've written about how frost and snow effects seaweeds in; Can seaweeds survive the frost and snow?
Cornish Frost - Myth or Reality?
Here in West Cornwall and by the coast, I never know whether the first frost will arrive at all. Where the warm currents and breezes from the sea can help keep the temperature more ambient. Exposed to the prevailing Southwesterly winds that blow in from the Atlantic means that Cornwall is considered the mildest and warmest place in the UK.
Here we can sometimes sit on the beach on Christmas Day, and sometimes the frost, never, ever arrives. It is true that the closer to the ocean you get, the milder the winters and the cooler the summers are.
What does the frost do to wild fruits and is there an alternative?
The frost has the effect of both breaking the skins of the fruits and sweetening them. A welcomed impact for desserts, flavoured gin, jams, jellies and much more. Of course, living in the modern age means you don't have to wait for the first frost.
Why? Because we have freezers. It is true, popping the fruits in the freezer is not as romantic as getting up at dawn to collect glistening fruits breaking their frost virginity. Though it is more convenient.
Freezers also mean that you can attend to your fruits - whatever you want to create with them - when you have ample time to enjoy the process.
Frost is beneficial to both the texture and sweetness of wild autumnal fruits. I have plenty of recipes for wild berries in my autumn blog. I also run hands on, practical foraging courses in autumn and all year round.
I love roses, and of course they are also one of the many symbols of love. Here in the UK we have several wild varieties and the cultivated ones are, almost, infinite.
After a hot, sunny day, I particularly love to be overcome by the scent of roses; the evening aroma of rose and other wild flowers lingers evocatively in the air as the sun goes down. Pure summer heaven, I think.
I could lie in bed reminiscing about their scent, trying to conjure up these smell memories, or I could find other ways to capture and literally bottle the heavenly rose....
Making your own rose water is a wonderful way to enjoy the roses again and again. Each rose is different, not only in scent but in colour, so the range of pink tones can vary hugely too. A more technical and intense process would be distilling the rose, though here I share an easy process you can do at home.
My favourite rose to use is Rosa Rugosa, or Japanese Rose, it is abundant in coastal areas, so is perfect where I live. However I recommend experimenting with different roses and, literally, stopping to smell the roses, following your nose until you find your perfect one.
Before I share how to make wild rose water, a note on picking rose petals. This is essential to look after the roses life-cycle and to ensure that the plant can produce rosehips (fruits) later in the year for animals, birds and humans:
- Never take more than 1/3
- Do not take the whole rose head (take just the petals)
- Take the petals that come away easily in your hand (do not rip or pull them off), these will have the most mature scent
- You can also pick the petals that have freshly fallen, or even dried (they will still have the scent)
How to Make Wild Rose Water
Rose water is a satisfying and simple way to bottle the flavour and colour of roses. This recipe makes a strong rose water, add more water if you want a weaker version. Each rose will have a slightly different scent and colour, I take great pleasure in bottling and seeing different versions in clear glass bottles next to each other.
Fresh rose petals
Roughly chop the petals and place in a measuring jug, packing the petals down as tightly as possible. Pour over just enough boiling water to cover the petals. The petals will float to the top so be sure to stir them back in. Cover the jug and set aside for 48 hours, you can leave for just 24 hours, though the extra day will extract extra flavour. Strain the liquid through muslin into sterilised bottles, making sure you squeeze out every last drop of the water and store in the fridge in sterilised bottles, or freeze in ice-cube trays. Use within 3 months.
Read here about edible roses, which ones to use and how to harvest them; Roses are Red, White, Pink and Edible.
I offer wild food foraging courses where I teach about different seasonal plants; flowers, leaves, fruits, shoots, roots and seeds and share many more tips and recipes.
Which Roses are Edible?
All rose petals are edible and both wild and cultivated roses can be used, though please see my tips for picking below. The most common wild roses in the UK are Dog Rose (Rosa Canina), Field Rose (Rosa Arvenis) and the Japanese Rose (Rosa Rugosa). Each rose has a different scent, so it's well worth smelling before you start picking, and finding your favourite rose types.
Cultivated roses with a good scent can also be used, but make sure they haven't been sprayed first. Some rose petals may have a bitter aftertase too. Petals can be used to decorate cakes, in cold soups, salads, meat dishes or desserts. Here's a few tips before you pick them though;
How to sustainably pick rose petals for using in recipes
- If you're picking cultivated roses, check: have they been sprayed?
- You can dry rose petals (then rehydrate them), or use them fresh
- Are the petals ready to be pluck (do they come away easily)?
- Petals that are ready to pick may have already fallen, or come away easily when touched (see below)
- Only pick the petals, never the whole flower-head (so the fruits can ripen later in the year)
In early summer and summer I may include roses in my foraging courses, and in the autumn I include the fruits of roses; the rosehips.
Sometimes I feel creative, sometimes crazy, with the ideas I come up with for using wild food. This one is a complete labour of love; a custard tart topped with rosehips and a rosehip syrup glaze. Devoured by 14 appreciative people on a hazy October afternoon.
Here's the recipe;
Rosehip Fruit and Custard Tart
Ingredients (for pastry base)
- 200g plain flour
- 100g cold butter, cubed
- 20g ground almonds
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1-4 tbsp cold water
- a little egg white
- 320ml whole milk
- 80g unrefined caster sugar
- 5 free-range eggs yolks (freeze the egg
- 25g cornflour, mixed to a paste with a little cold water
- 200ml rosehip syrup
- 2 tbsp cornflour
- 2 tbsp honey
- 100g rosehips, fresh out the freezer
In a large bowl, add the flour, ground almonds and baking powder, mix well and rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs. Mix in the the beaten egg and 1-tablespoon at a time of cold water (just enough to bind the dough, no more). Alternatively you can blend the mixture in a food processor, adding the water at the end. Press the dough into a ball, wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200C and grease a 23cm diameter flan tin.
For the filling, in a medium saucepan bring the milk to the boil, whisking all the time. Remove from the heat and in a medium bowl, beat the sugar and egg yolks for 3-5 minutes, or until the mixture falls in thick ribbons from the whisk. Slowly whisk in the cornflour paste until well combined. Slowly pour in the hot milk, stirring in well, before returning the mixture back into the saucepan. Heat the mixture, whisking constantly, until boiling. Cook for a further minute, then pour the mixture into a bowl and set aside to cool for 10 minutes. Cover with clingfilm and chill in the fridge.
Roll the pastry out on a floured work surface to about ½ cm thick and line the flan tin. Brush the pastry with a little egg white to seal it and bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until the pastry is golden-brown and crisp. Let the pastry cool a little, then carefully transfer to a wire rack. At this stage the cooked pastry can be covered and stored for a few days before using.
For the glaze, heat half the rosehip syrup in a saucepan until boiling then remove the pan from the heat. Dissolve the cornflour in the remaining syrup and quickly pour the mixture back into the saucepan, returning to the heat, stirring all the time, until the mixture has thickened. Next add the honey, bring back to the boil and remove the pan from the heat. Set aside to cool. When ready to assemble the tart, spoon in the custard filling, and with a sharp knife, carefully slice the ends off the rosehips, then slice them in half, lengthways and scoop out the ball of seeds with a teaspoon. Place the rosehips on top of the custard, cut-side down. Transfer the glaze to a pouring jug and drizzle over the glaze. Chill in the fridge until ready to serve.
Here I share a deliciously wild and decadent chocolate recipe using foraged rosehips. Tart bites of red flesh in a rich, dark chocolate. I use fresh Rosa rugosa fruits for this recipe, but you could use rehydrated rosehip fruit leather.
I first made this recipe for a Valentine's Day foraging course I led at Men-a-Tol. Valentines day is not everyone's cup of tea, so if you prefer walking boots to roses do read on!
Leading a foraging walk near Men-a-Tol
Men-a-Tol is an ancient site in West Penwith, about four miles from Penzance. It consists of a holed stone between two upright stones. The holed stone is large enough to crawl through. It isn’t known what the site was originally used for, though speculation includes passing small children through the hole to remedy ills, and use as a fertility site.
What to expect on a foraging walk
I chose this venue to integrate the fertility aspect of this ancient site. Adding an additional aspect to Valentine's day for those wanting to conceive.
The walk involves an atmospheric wander down an old track lined with tall hedgerows. There's a 360° view of the moors. Running this course in February means dressing warmly as the site is quite exposed.
The first time I led this foraging course, when we reached the stone site, I remember one couple decided to crawl through the stone together - as is the custom if you're wanting to conceive.
I thought little more of it until several months later I received an email from them announcing the imminent birth of their first child! Apparently two weeks after our Valentine's foray she was pregnant.
Two years later I was leading another group to Men-a-Tol for that year’s Valentine’s celebration. We were just about to start the walk when the same couple introduced themselves carrying a 13 month old bouncing boy of their back.
‘We’re going for a second’ they announced as they strode off towards Men-a-Tol!
Rosehip Chocolate recipe
This recipe was inspired by the Valentine, hearts, and the chocolate theme. I wanted to give chocolate a wild twist, and came up with this. I gave them to the foraging walk participants when we reached Men-a-Tol and they went down a treat! Rosehips are naturally both sweet and tart, and red, of course.
How to make wild rosehip chocolates
- 200 g Dark chocolate (I use Green and Blacks cooking chocolate)
- 100 g Rosa rugosa flesh (flesh not fruits)
Carefully and patiently remove the flesh from around the outside of the fruit, careful not to dislodge the tight ball of hairy seeds (see also 'how to make rosehip fruit leather'). You want to avoid these seeds as they can irritate the digestive tract.
Chop the pulp a little, to ensure that you don’t have too bigger pieces of flesh or fruit skin. To melt the chocolate, place it in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Make sure the bowl doesn't touch the water.
Once the chocolate has almost melted, stir in the rosehip flesh. Pour into chocolate moulds or line a dish with greaseproof paper and spoon in the mixture. Leave to cool at cut into chunks, or peel out of the moulds. Eat within a few days. .
Rosehips are traditionally used for making rosehip syrup, but there's so much more you can do with them.
I recently led a group of families on a foraging walk and provided sweet biscuits with rosehip fruit in them. Fleshy, tart bites of red fruit nestled within a biscuit base. They went down really well!
Preserving rosehip fruit
Here I share how to store rosehip flesh by making a rosehip fruit leather. This is a labour of love - a process to be enjoyed, with a fruity goal in mind. The result is a delicious and versatile sheet of pure fruit which can be stored for months and used as a snack or to flavour; tarts, chocolate and ice cream to savoury rosehip crackers.
Which rosehips to use for making rosehip fruit leather
Using Japanese Rose (Rosa rugosa) hips will enable you to reap more fruit for your work, they’re a larger hip than our native rosehips making them easier to handle.
Where to find Rosa rugosa rosehips
These plants have naturalised in many places, originally many were planted on sand dunes and shingle beaches to help stabilise the ground. Hence one of their names - beach rose. You can also find them on waste ground, or in cultivated gardens. Several times I've befriended someone who has them growing in their garden. I gather their hips in exchange for a proportion of what I make. It's always gratefully received.
When to gather rosehips
Start looking out for hips from late summer & through autumn. You could of course wait for after the first frost, at the risk of the birds getting them first. Living in Cornwall, with a milder climate & being impatient to utilise these fruits, I normally pick them as soon as possible & freeze them to ‘fake’ the first frost. I’m looking for the dark red fruits, not too orange in colour. Freezing them also means you can store them until you’re ready to embark on processing them.
How to make rosehip fruit leather
Defrost or pick the fruits after first frost. Start processing them as quickly as possible so not to loose valuable vitamin C. Carefully and patiently remove the flesh from around the outside of the fruit, careful not to dislodge the tight ball of hairy seeds. You want to avoid these seeds as they can irritate the digestive tract.
This is a messy and fiddly job, so take your time, you’ll be left with a pile of fleshy rosehip pulp, and a pile of hairy seeds. Discard the latter. You may want to chop the pulp a little, to ensure that you don’t have too bigger pieces of flesh or fruit skin.
If you’re using a de-hydrator, follow the instructions for making fruit leather, and spread the fruit pulp onto the teflon sheet before drying the fruit for several hours. If using an oven, line a dish or baking tray with oven-proof clingfilm, and spread the pulp on, about 2mm thick. Put the oven on the lowest heat and leave for up to 12 hours.
The consistency of the fruit leather can be altered according to taste - slightly moist and chewy or dry and almost brittle. The latter will keep longer. When needed, rehydrate the fruit and blend or cut and grind into flakes/powder.
What is the flavour of rosehips?
What I love about working with wild fruit is the flavour is so unique. These particular fruits - Rosa rugosa are not as sweet nor tart as Rosa canina (Dog rose). Instead, they have been compared to processing fruit this way is that there is no need to add sugar. Instead, you can get to taste a mixture of natural sweetness & tarty-ness of this amazing super fruit.
Once you’ve made your fruit leather, either keep it whole or cut it into strips and store in a dry place. It will keep well for over one year.
You can chew on the rosehip fruit leather as a snack, powder it and use it in Rosehip and Buckwheat Crackers. Alternatively, break it into small pieces and rehydrate in a small amount of warm water to use in desserts.