Rose Hip Syrup/Cordial & Jelly Recipes
In my last post I mentioned rose hip syrup or cordial as a natural remedy for many of the symptoms of gastroenteritis. I prefer to make my own rather than to purchase it. I like to know what is going into my food and where it comes from. Rose hips have a lot of health benefits, so it is great to have some rose hip products on hand at all times. If you don’t have time to make your own, you can always buy rose hip tea, but if you do have the opportunity to make your own, definitely go for it!
What Are Rose Hips?
Rose hips are the bulbous part of the rose just behind the rose flower. They contain the seeds of the rose plant. If you do not pick the rose flowers, they will eventually fall off and the rose hips will develop afterwards. They can vary a lot in size and coloration, but they are usually red and always bulbous.
Benefits of Rose Hips
Rose hips have a lot of well-documented medicinal benefits. Rose hips are incredibly potent antioxidants. Fresh rose hips are very high in vitamin C, which is why rose hip syrup is such a great natural remedy when you are feeling ill. Rose hips are also good sources of a number of nutrients, including: vitamin A, vitamin B3, vitamin D, vitamin E, flavonoids, carotenoids*, betasitosterol, fructose, malic acid, tannins, lycopenes**, magnesium, zinc, copper, and other phytochemicals (including galactolipids).*** Rose hips help with many different conditions, including having anti-inflammatory properties,**** so they are good for treating diseases like arthritis.***** There is also evidence that rose hips are useful for weight loss, by reducing fat accumulation.****** They can also help lower cholesterol.******* They are also a good supplement for diabetics, with animal trials showing hypoglycemic effects.******** Finally, rose hips have been shown to be effective in treating chronic back pain.********* It is this pain-killing property of rose hips that I find effective with sick kids – combined with the antioxidants and vitamin C, it can really help your kids feel better!
Collecting Rose Hips
Rose hips should be brightly colored when you collect them and nice and fat. They are best after the first frost, which sweetens them a bit. It doesn’t generally frost here, so if you are collecting them in a mild environment or you can’t wait until after the first frost, simply stick them in the freezer when you get home and leave them for a while to get them nice and frosty. Collect as many as you can because this recipe keeps for a long time and it is worth making extra.
I don’t know what your local rose garden’s policy is on collecting rose hips, but roses abound in the area where I live. I (with the help of my parents and toddlers) collected mine in the heritage rose garden at our local botanical garden. They were falling in the thousands on the ground, so we figured they wouldn’t mind us picking some. As a result, my rose hips came from a wide variety of rose bush varieties, some of which are extremely rare. They were also beautifully organic! A second botanical garden nearby also has a huge rose garden and I could probably collect buckets of rose hips from there (I know that botanical garden runs workshops that include collecting fruits and vegetables so they might be open to letting me collect there). There are also lots of roses planted by the government on public property just to beautiful the streets in the hills near where we live. I actually didn’t even realize they were rose bushes because to me they look like trees! When I did a guided tour of the heritage rose garden at the botanical gardens the guide taught me a lot of things about roses I never knew before.
Preparing the Rose Hips
Rose hips look so plump and juicy! But you’ll soon discover they are not very juicy at all. They are in fact very hard and the insides are full of tough little seeds. Not exactly the kind of food you could just bake into a cake! I was hoping to be lazy and just pass them through my juicer, but that would probably break the juicer!
The first thing you have to do, before you begin, is to chop up the rose hips. I tried being lazy again and tossing a handful into my food processor, but it didn’t work – they are just really, really hard and mostly bounced wildly around inside it. So I chopped them with a knife. Cutting them in half is sufficient, or for really hard varieties, simply cutting halfway through should do the trick. The goodness of the rose hips is inside, but the skins are so tough that just boiling them whole won’t do the trick.
Some recipes will tell you to peel, quarter, and de-seed rose hips, which is what you will need to do if you want rose hip jam. I cannot even begin to imagine doing that much work! As it is, this recipe will probably take about an hour of prep time, and who has time to do more than that?! Certainly not this busy mom!
This recipe will provide you with both rose hip syrup/cordial and rose hip jelly, or you can make just one or the other. I don’t really miss having bits of rose hip in my jelly, certainly not enough to spend another hour or two of time prepping the rose hips!
Rose Hip Cordial/Jelly
8-9 cups or 1 kg fresh rose hips
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup agave nectar
- Chop the rose hips by hand or in a food processor. They do not need to be finely chopped – cut in half should be sufficient.
- Place rose hips in a pot and pour over them 2 liters (8-9 cups) boiling water.
- Bring the water back to the boil, then turn off the heat and allow to stand for 20 minutes to allow rose hips to infuse.
- Place a jelly bag or a double layer of muslin in a large bowl and pour in.
- Squeeze bag well to strain out any remaining liquid from the rose hips.
- Reserve rose hip liquid.
- Add rose hips back to the pot and pour on another 1.5 liters (6 cups) boiling water.
- Bring to the boil, then turn off the heat and allow to stand for an additional 10 minutes to infuse.
- Repeat steps 4 & 5 with the new rose hip infusion. (Infusing the rose hips again increases the potency and flavor, as I learned when I tested it with just one infusion, so don’t skip the second infusion!)
- Pour both bowls of rose hip infusion into the pot and bring to a rapid boil.
- Boil until infusion has reduced to 1 liter (~4 cups), then remove from heat.
- Stir in honey and agave nectar.
- Pour into sterilized jars and refrigerate until needed. Will keep for several months!
- Turn your cordial into jelly! Simply take a vegetarian gelling powder, dissolve in cold water, then add to the hot cordial before it cools. Gelling agents need heat in order to set. I used 3 packets of Jel-it-in (24 grams, just shy of 1 ounce) to set 2.5 cups of otherwise undiluted cordial. Pour the hot liquid directly in sterilized jar(s) and place in the fridge.
- I used a strong local red gum honey when I made this and it gave a distinct honey flavor to the cordial. You can alter the flavor by using a different honey, by reversing the honey-to-agave ratios, or by using just agave nectar.
- As you add sweetener, taste and adjust accordingly. If you like it sweeter, you can always add more. I did not want mine very sweet because I feel like the sweetness drowns out the flavor of the rose hips. At the same time, unsweetened rose hips can be somewhat sour, so some sweetener is necessary.
- Change the flavor of your infusion by infusing other items with your rose hips. Try hibiscus, lavendar, mint, rhubarb, or apple for a delicious twist.
I hope you enjoy this rose hip recipe as much as I did! We are still drinking (and eating) the benefits of it.
*Machmudah S, Kondo M, Sasaki M, et al. Process optimization and extraction rate analysis of carotenoids extraction from rosehip fruit using supercritical CO2. J Supercrit Fluids 2008;44:308– 14.
**Böhm V, K, Fröhlich K, Bitsch R. Rosehip: a “new” source of lycopene? Mol Aspects Med 2003;24:385–9.
*** Christensen LP. Galactolipids as potential health promoting compounds in vegetable foods. Recent Pat Food Nutr Agric 2009;1:50–8.
****Winther K, Rein E, Kharazmi A. The antiinflammatory properties of rose-hip. Inflammopharmacology 1999;7:63–8.
*****Warholm O, Skaar S, Hedman E, Mølmen HM, Eik L. The effects of a standardized herbal remedy made from a subtype of Rosa canina in patients with osteoarthritis: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Curr Ther Res Clin Exp 2003;64:21–31.
******Ninomiya K, Matsuda H, Kubo M, Morikawa T, Nishida N, Yoshikawa M. Potent anti-obese principle from Rosa canina: atructural requirements and mode of action of trans-tiliroside. Bioorg Med Chem Lett 2007;17:3059–64.
*******Rein E, Kharazmi A, Winther K. A herbal remedy, Hyben Vital (stand. powder of a subspecies of Rosa canina fruits), reduces pain and improves general wellbeing in patients with osteoarthritis: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomised trial. Phytomedicine 2004;11:383–91.
********Orhan N, Aslan M, Hosbas S, Deliorman OD. Antidiabetic effect and antioxidant potential of Rosa canina fruits. Pharmacognosy Magazine 2009;5:309–15.
*********Chrubasik C, Wiesner L, Black A, Müller-Ladner, Chrubasik S. A one-year survey on the use of a powder from rosa canina lito in acute exacerbations of chronic pain. Phytother Res 2008;22:1141–8.