Rosehip season

Hands up who remembers keeping the winter chills and ills at bay with rosehip syrup?

I hadn’t thought much about it being something that’s disappeared off our shelves until I stumbled on a piece on the internet some time ago about some of the history of the brew that was made from wild-growing Central Otago sweet briar hips (Rosa rubiginosa). Read some of that history here.

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Summer in Ophir in cental Otago is one huge blooming of roses, hollyhocks, poppies and foxgloves. Photo: Sandra Simpson



During World War 2 the hips were sent to factories in Dunedin to be made into syrup which was used by mothers and children, including infants, to boost Vitamin C intake at a time when fresh fruit and vege weren’t always plentiful.  Read more about that here (with photos of the briars growing wild). Mothers received government coupons which could be exchanged for rosehip syrup. Apparently rosehips have 20 times more Vitamin C than a comparable weight of oranges.

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Rosehips are also ornamental garden features and sought after by floral designers. Photo: Sandra Simpson

Muriel Bell is a name most of us won’t know, but what a life of achievement she led in this country, particularly concerned by the need for a healthy diet (and this was in the first half of the 20th century). In among all her projects – pasteurised milk, the vitamin content of fruit and vege, fluoridated water and better-quality bread – was the promotion of rosehip syrup for mothers and babies during the war years. Needless to say, this health advocate (and a doctor and a scientist) was known as “Battle-axe Bell”.

The Curious Kai blog has a great posting about rosehips so I’ll shut up and you click on the link and read that (includes a recipe and lots of pictures). The Heritage Roses NZ website also includes a recipe for rosehip syrup, while Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has a fairly simple-sounding recipe.


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