Rachel Lambert: forager, author, guide
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Wild rosehip fruits

Gathering rosehips to make your own rosehip syrup is a great way to provide a vitamin C rich drink for you and your family. You can also use dried, bought, or frozen rosehips for this recipe.

Looking down into a bottle of rosehip syrup with rosehips in the background

This recipe is based on a traditional rosehip drink, and was inspired by the method shared in Roger Philip's Wild Food book.

Bunch of rosehips growing

When to pick rosehips?

Rosehips are usually picked after the first frost, when their skins are softened and the flesh sweetened. They tend to be ready from September to November when the fruits have turned from orange to red. Once the colour is ripe you can also pick and freeze the fruits.

Which rosehips are edible?

All rosehips (the fruits of the rose) are edible, but not all are tasty. I find the best rosehips to make syrup from are Dog Rose, also known as Wild Rose (Rosa canina).

Why are rosehips good for you?

Rosehips have high amounts of vitamin C - about 4x as much as blackcurrants and 20x as much as oranges - and they are local, seasonal food! Rosehips also contain good amounts of vitamin E, A and K.

Can animals eat rosehips?

My dog forages for rosehips as food, but the tiny hairs inside the fruit aren't good for human or animal digestive systems. That's why rosehip syrup is normally strained to separate the hairs and the hair coated seeds.

Rosehip syrup on a spoon and rosehips

Rosehip Syrup Recipe

A subtly flavoured syrup which is brilliant for staving off colds. Dilute as a drink, drizzle over pancakes, apple crumble or ice cream or use in cocktails.

This recipe for rosehip syrup avoids boiling the fruits so as not to loose too much vitamin C. In fact, you'll only loose about 15% vitamin C and most of that is lost between mashing the fruits and plunging them into boiling water. So speed is a vitamin asset.

Bowl of frozen rosehip fruits

Makes 750 ml

Ingredients
  • 300 g rosehips, stalks removed
  • 1 litre water
  • 300 g golden caster sugar

Using a small to medium saucepan, bring 500ml of water to the boil. Briefly mash the fruits and immediately plunge into the boiling water. Bring the water back to the boil, turn off the heat and leave the fruits to infuse for 15 minutes. Put both the rosehips and liquid into a jelly bag and allow the juice to drip through into a bowl. Using the same saucepan, bring the remaining 500ml of water to the boil, add the rosehip pulp, turn off the heat, cover and allow to infuse for a further 10 minutes. Strain through the jelly bag and allow all the liquid to drip through.

Wash out the saucepan and fill with the strained rosehip water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced by one third. Stir in the sugar, allow to dissolve, then simmer for 5 minutes before pouring into hot, sterilised bottles.

Bowl of rosehip fruits next to a glass of rosehip syrup

If you like this recipe, you may want to see my other rosehip recipes and notes. Rosehips are also one of the fruits I teach on my foraging courses between late summer and winter.

Bottle of blackberry syrup tied with string and fresh blackberries

This blackberry cordial is divine, with a deep flavour. Use for hot or cold drinks, drizzled over hot porridge, over chocolate cake, over baked cheesecake, or mix with whiskey. I'll be sharing these recipes later on.

Glass bottle filled with dark blackberry syrup

The secret is in letting the blackberry juices release and not adding any additional water. That way you are left with a rich blackberry cordial...

Makes 325 ml

Ingredients

  • 500 g blackberries
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 140 g brown sugar

Place the fruits in a medium saucepan with the water and mash a little over a low to medium heat. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes.

Straining blackberry syrup through a jelly bag

Strain through a jelly bag or muslin cloth (I have a faithful square of nylon net-curtain that works wonders). Leave to drip through, squeezing out the last drops out, careful not to break the fabric (that’s why nylon works wonders!).

Put the pulp aside as this can be used for Blackberry Seeded and Buckwheat Crackers. Place the liquid back in the pan and add the sugar. Stir over a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved then store in a sterilised bottle. To use the cordial as a drink, dilute 1 to 5 parts.

Blackberries are one of the fruits that I teach on my late summer and autumn foraging courses. You can also read more of my recipes about blackberries on my blog search.

 

 

Miss Blackberry, are you winking at me?
Flashing your juicy smile my way.
How can I resist your deep colouring and shiny curves dotting the prickly hedgerows.
And how can I decipher your sweetness from your sour sisters and under-ripe brothers?

 

 

It's hard to know isn't it. Hard to know which fruit is going to be sweet, which one sour. Here in the UK there was over 200 varieties of bramble, who knows, maybe they've hybridised and there is more types now, though I expect that we have lost a few, and we now have less variables of blackberries. Of course I'm not talking about the large, cultivated shop-bought ones, I'm talking about the wild ones.

 

Back to sweetness of the bramble fruits, this depends on 3 things; the weather, the soil and the variety. Weather we definitely can't influence, not immediately anyhow, the soil, well you can, so reach for your shovel and be prepared to wait. Though variety, well this requires memory and/or foresight.

This autumn, when you're out picking your blackberries and you come across a fantastic tasty crop. Remember. Yes, remember where they are and check this exact spot next year. If you're feeling daring you could also cut off a branch and plant it in your garden or somewhere else perhaps - though be warned they grow thick and fast.

Blackberries are our own, native super fruit, easily over-looked because they are common, though don't forget where the sweet, juicy ones are, and next autumn go foraging for your remembered crop.

I run foraging courses through the year, and share plenty of knowledge about blackberries and many more plants on my late summer and autumn courses. #mindfulwildforager

Enjoying a combination of new sights & tastes & feeling reassured

by how many wild edibles we share with mainland Europe 

 

Back in Spring, I felt inspired to plan a trip to Europe, lured by stories of ice-cold mountain lakes, lots of outdoors people, armfuls of wild berries & mountains...

Over the last few years I've found myself completely content with being in Cornwall - I felt I had everything - sea, moors, great locals & the inspiring influx of newcomers & tourists. In my experience, like any love affair, there usually comes a time when I feel established enough in the relationship to step out into new things, knowing I can return home with fresh ideas & renewed vitality.

On this premise, I vaguely planned my trip, & on the cusp of September when I thought the berries might be at their best, got on the sleeper train to London & started my journey to Austria. Now, you may well be familiar with travelling abroad, for me, lets just say it's been a while. Starting from a small town called Mayhofren nestled in the alps of  south Austria, the delight of seeing & smelling a new environment was inspiring, naturally I wanted to be out there immersing myself in it all.

I find walking & foraging a great way to experience a place &  before I knew it I was walking along rivers, up & down valleys comforting myself with the pleasures of elderberries, bilberries & raspberries. Everything can taste differently in a new place - the air, earth & water contributing to a plant's unique flavour.

 

The raspberries were like none I'd tasted before - sweet, seedy & ripe. As an optimist, I often have a romantic idea about a place before I go & on the whole, Austria lived up to my image of it, however, armfuls of berries, hmm, I'm not sure about that! Foraging, can at times need concentration & focus, & even when I found bushes & bushes of bilberries in the alpine forests, I needed a keen eye to pick them out.

Locally, bilberry jam was delicious, I had traditional Austrian dumplings flavoured with juniper berries & a fellow walker had burger & chips with cranberry sauce - move over Heinz ketchup! The foraging highlight for me was these last two berries - juniper & cranberries. Although I've read that juniper berries grow in South England, I've never found them, ooh, & the sharp taste of raw cranberries was surprisingly pleasant as a walking snack.

 

So, rest assured, that learning about foraged foods in the UK can give you a broad starting point across Europe,  a unique way of appreciating new landscapes & a fun way of tasting your way round many countries, mountains & lakes!

 

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