Not only do roses provide us with some of the most important flower medicine in the pharmacopoeia, come autumn they are also waiting to support our immune systems too.

In my school, these rose hips, formed after the petals of the flower have fallen, were known as ‘itchycoo powder’ after the very itchy, hairy seeds inside. But the flesh of these bright reddish-orange beauties is also full of vitamin c. So much, in fact, that after WWII children were sent out to pick the hips which were collected by the government, turned into vitamin c syrup, and given back to the population to help keep vitamin c levels up in the absence of oranges due to rationing. My father used to talk about doing this as a boy.

There are two types commonly seen in the UK – these small, hard hips are from our own native wild rose, the fatter ones are from the Japanese rose. The fatter ones are by far the easiest to process, but not nearly as tasty (I suspect a higher water content) so my favourites still remain the native ones pictured here.

You can also try my Rosehip Syrup Recipe:

  1. Roughly chop the rosehips into a pan, cover well with water and bring to the boil then simmer for 30 minutes.
  2. Strain twice through a double layer of muslin.
  3. Measure the rosehip juice into a large saucepan and for every 500ml add 325g sugar.
  4. Heat slowly until the sugar has dissolved, then bring to the boil for 3 minutes – skimming off any scum.
  5. Decant immediately into sterilised bottles, seal, and label. Use within 4 months and refrigerate once opened. Take 5mls a day to help ward off winter coughs and colds.

I hope this recipe helps!