Ingrid Glendinning shares more ideas and inspiration for what to do with all that wonderful free food on our doorsteps.
This is a very unusual jam compared to most jams made in Scotland. My mum makes this and the first time I tasted it I could not believe the smoothness and intensity of flavour. It is a bit messy, time consuming and fiddly to make, but so worth it as you are rewarded with the most amazing jam you have ever tasted. You will eat it out of the jar…it is that good.
You probably are aware of the extremely high vitamin C content of rosehips and that they were used to make rosehip syrup during the Second World War. Some generations of Fife Diet members may have memories of picking them to take to school for this purpose.
This is the perfect time of year to pick rosehips. Don’t worry if they are soft when you pick them. I have picked soft and firm ones and have even left the end bits on (the spent flower tops), brought them home, washed them and froze them as I didn’t have time to process them straight away. So they are very forgiving and the end product still tastes amazing. I have only ever used the native Dog Rose rosehips, but I know that you can use the Rosa Rugosa (Chinese Rose) hips as well.
Rosehips are very low in pectin so the jam will not be as firm as other jams, but the pectin sugar will help. I have only ever used normal sugar and lots of lemon juice, and the jam was a bit runny, but still delicious. But I recommend using jam sugar just for this kind of wild fruit, to help it set.
So grab a few friends and family, put some thorn proof clothing on and go rosehip picking.
1 kg of washed Rosehips (don’t worry about removing the tail bits, they will get strained off with the skin and pips)
Enough water to cover the rosehips
500 g jam sugar for every litre of pulp
Juice of 4 lemons
Put the rosehips and water into a large pot and bring to a gentle simmer. Use a large pot for this, as the mixture will need space to rise up and boil to set.
Simmer for about 10 minutes or longer, until the hips are very soft, pulpy, and mushy and the mixture has thickened. Add more water if you feel it is too thick. The mixture should not be like mashed potato, but more like a thick soup.
Strain the mixture carefully (it is very hot) through a large holed sieve (this speeds up the process considerably compared to a small holed sieve and makes life easier). Alternatively use a mouli to do this.
Measure out the resulting pulp and add 500g of sugar per litre of pulp. Simmer gently until the sugar is completely dissolved.
Place a saucer in the fridge to use for checking the set later. Bring the mixture to a boil and boil steadily for 30 minutes (don’t go far whilst this is happening as it needs stirred and constant attention as it is very hot). Test for set by placing a spoonful of the mixture on the saucer from the fridge. Put back in the fridge and leave for 5 minutes. Run your finger through the jam to check if it is wrinkly/thick. It should be thick, but maybe not as firm as conventional jams, but still able to be spread on toast, scones, etc.
Ladle into sterilized jars, seal and label.
Rosehip and Apple Tea
This is another much loved recipe from my childhood in Romania. It is very easy and quick to make, as long as you have all the ingredients dried and ready to use.
Pick a small freezer bag full of rosehips, wash them, spread them out on a tea towel and leave them to dry either in a very low oven until crisp or for a few weeks in a dry, cool place. You could even string them up like Chillies and hang them in the kitchen to dry, they would look really pretty. For the apple peel, peel some red apples and dry the skin in the same way as the rosehips (red apples give more flavour to the tea).
Once completely dry, put the rosehips and the apple peel in a bag and use a rolling pin to crush them, or whizz them up on a low setting in a coffee grinder. They have to be bone dry for this. Once crushed, you can store the mixture in a jar for later use.
Both of these ingredients are easy and plentiful to find in Fife at this time of year and you could add other dried herbs from the garden, or even dried lime flowers, dried mint leaves, camomile, or whatever you like. Everyone is different, but apple and rosehip go really well together. Experiment with different mixtures and see what you like.
You can now make the infusion in the usual way. Use as much or as little of the dried mixture to infuse with boiling water. Leave to infuse for as long as you like, strong or weak tea, and then strain. Some lemon juice squirted in makes it taste even better and a dash of honey of course.
This is what we drank during the winter months, and I can vividly remember the apple peel being saved by my mum and dried on the stove, in one corner, to use for tea.
To this day, rosehip tea is my favourite tea.
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