One of the great joys of early autumn is harvesting what you’ve grown…
At least, it’s SUPPOSED to be one the the great joys. Weirdly, I’ve always found that I’m not very good at harvesting. I love planting and getting things started – but then by the time it’s ready to harvest, I’ve lost interest! Rich always says I have the attention span of a gnat…
But this year I’m looking forward to throwing an autumn equinox supper for the family, and I thought I would make a seasonal cordial in time for it. Kids can add the syrup to sparkling water to make a special seasonal drink, and adults can pop in a cheeky bit of booze, if they’re so inclined.
So I thought I would just go out and have a ramble, to see what I could find. And what I found was rose hips! Beautiful and startlingly red in their thorny green foliage, like jewels in the grey light. I could not be more passionate about field roses – they’re tough as old boots, make great hedging, give you flowers in the summer and rose hips to boot! What’s not to love?
So off I went with my gauntlets and collecting bowl, and came back with a heap of rose hips – and a handful of raspberries from my garden, thrown in for good measure.
First thing when I got back to the kitchen, I washed out the bottles I was planning to use for the cordial with warm soapy water, and put them into a low oven to dry while I got on with the rest of the prep. This serves a double purpose of sterilising the bottles, as well as warming them so that they don’t crack when you put the hot liquid into the glass. Don’t forget to use oven gloves when getting the bottles or jars out of the oven – that glass gets HOT!
Then I washed the rose hips and raspberries, trimmed them, sorted out any random leaves, bugs or too-old fruit that was hiding in there, and was left with 800 grams of fruit. A good-sized haul! Blitzed it all up in my trusty food processor, popped all the pulp into a big saucepan, covered it with water, simmered for 30 minutes and then strained out all the pulp. I just used a big sieve, although you can add a layer of muslin if you wish. This cooking/straining part is important, because you really have to beware of the tiny hairs that line the inside of the fruit and often times cover the seeds. These hairs are literally itching powder and they’re uncomfortable enough when they come into contact with your skin, let alone ingesting them.
Then I added sugar – lots of it! 50 g for every 80 ml of liquid, to be precise. Normally I try to avoid sugar, because as we all know, it’s damaging to the gut microbiome. But we keep to an 80-20 rule here on the farm – which means that if you’re eating healthy food 80% of the time, you can have treats 20% of the time. And cordial for an autumn celebration definitely comes under the heading of allowable treats.
Making jams and syrups at home always does require a lot of sugar, because it’s used as a preservative. And to be honest, I simply haven’t found a good alternative to use in these traditional processes. So I try to be mindful and just really enjoy them!
I added the sugar, stirring to dissolve, and simmered for 5 minutes.
Decanted my gorgeous red cordial into my warm clean bottles and voila! All ready for our autumn equinox celebration.
Here’s the recipe, if you’d like to give it a go:
Rose Hip Cordial
- Makes: About 400ml
- Prep time: 20 minutes
- Cook time: 25 minutes
- 400g rosehips (and/or other seasonal fruit)
- About 200g granulated sugar
- Wash and drain the rose hips and trim off and discard the green stems. Put the rose hips into a food processor and blitz them to a pulp (or chop with a knife – I recommend wearing gloves when handling the chopped fruit, because of the irritant potential of the seeds).
- Put the fruit pulp into a saucepan with 700ml water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15–20 minutes, until the fruit is completely soft.
- Line a sieve with a double layer of muslin and set it over a large bowl or jug. Pour in the pulp and liquid, and leave it to drip through.
- You should end up with about 320ml of liquid. For every 80ml of liquid, measure out 50g of sugar. Put the sugar and strained liquid into a clean pan. Slowly bring to a boil, stirring gently to dissolve the sugar, then simmer for 5 minutes.
- Pour the hot syrup into sterilised bottles leaving a small gap at the top, and put on the lids. Refrigerate once opened.
Enjoy! ; )
Hugs from the garden,