As Gaia and I were hoarding ruby treasure in the country park last week an elderly couple stopped by and enquired as to what I was going to make with all the hips and hawes. I told them and said I'd heard that in war time children were paid by pharmacies to collect rose hips to be turned into vitamin C syrup to keep them healthy through the winter. My Grandad remembers his mother making the same syrup in wartime. The elderly couple shared memories of actually doing this and told of how they were also paid to collect conkers for toothpaste (this I have to try). Their hearts seemed warmed to see us doing the same - something connecting three generations, me passing this knowledge to my children - the generation that could really need wild local knowledge for resilience and self sufficiency. I have a vision. And it's where I try to change the world by empowering my children to change it too.
Winter Vitamin Syrup
I use whatever is about - so for their short season Elderberries, right through the winter Rosehips and hawes are available here too.
Elderberries have anti-inflammatory properties so soothe coughs and sore throats. It is anti-viral and will fight certain strains of flu.
Rosehips are full of vitamins A, C, K and some of the B vitamins. They keep coughs and colds at bay.
Hawthorn is good for heart health so great for circulatory problems and reduce anxiety and insomnia.
Either pick rosehips after the first frost so that they are slightly softer or start as soon as possible in september and stick them in the freezer over night to simulate a frost. It doesn't matter how many berries you collect, the proportions are simple and so quantities can be adjusted easily.
roughly 250g sugar
1litre of water
12 whole cloves
2 sticks of cinnamon
Crush the rosehips slightly in a big pan (a heavy rolling pin works well) then add elderberries and hawes if using.
Add the cloves, cinnamon and water then bring close to boil then gently simmer for half an hour
Cover and leave over night to stew.
Next day bring it back to the boil and simmer until the hawes have lost their colour.
Strain through a muslin into a measuring jug so that you can see what quantity you have - DO NOT squeeze the straining liquid through the muslin as rosehips contain irritating hairs. I suspend the muslin full of berries over the jug and let it strain at a natural pace.
Transfer to the pan (which I always rinse to eliminate those rosehip fibres) and add the same quantity of sugar as you have of liquid. Stir until it dissolves and bring back to the boil. Simmer for ten minutes.
Cool somewhat then pour into sterilised bottles. Take a teaspoon or two a day and be sure to drizzle over porridge or pancakes!