Working on the AW21 print collection for Palava, which was inspired by food we can find in the wild, I realised how little I knew about foraging, besides the usual blackberry picking. I felt inspired to find out more, and Bryony suggested I share my findings here, on the Palava blog.
First I had to find a good reference book, and as an ex-bookseller, I knew I needed pictures! I hate it when you buy a cookery book or reference book of some sort, and there are no illustrations; the visual side is very important to me. The best book in the foraging section of the bookshop for my money was “Hedgerow” by John Wright, part of the “River Cottage Handbook” series. After making a few notes, I started to keep an eye out for possible foraging opportunities when I was out and about.
So one bright morning I took my cutters, a bowl and a jar and set off to cut some rose hips from the bushes. On public land, you are probably ok, but maybe ask your neighbours before snipping away. ‘Hedgerow’ contains a good section on legal rights for foraging, which is helpful if one is to become an avid forager!
If, like me, you decide to go on a hunt for rosehips, One point to note is that there is also the Japanese rose hip, which is fatter and a slightly different shape (See the first set of pics above.). Apparently not a native species, it has larger hips and more greenery on the ends. (John Wright’s book says it doesn't taste quite as nice, but it’s bigger if you need to bulk up on amounts).
I boiled my foraged rosehips for 15 mins and squashed them with a potato masher once they had softened. After cooling for 15 mins I strained them through a double layer of Muslin, twice, (washing the muslin in between) to make sure all of the hairs had been filtered out.
Wright’s recipe then suggests mixing the strained juice with 150g of granulated sugar, over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. I found this made my syrup a little too sweet, so would suggest adding a bit at a time and tasting it. The lower the sugar amount, the more quickly your rosehip syrup should be used, but it will keep longer if poured hot into hot sterilised jars and sealed with a lid, as with jam.
As for uses, rosehip syrup can be taken in the morning as a medicinal boost. It is also delicious on desserts or pancakes. And I have taken to using it as a cordial for a refreshing drink
For me, the experience of harvesting rosehips and exploring a book on foraging, certainly brought a new awareness to my everyday life. Sadly I noticed a damson tree on the end of my street that had dropped most of its fruit in vain, which makes me wonder how often this happens, that nature's offerings are lost on us, without the knowledge of the land that would have previously been handed down through generations.
I’m noticing more and more people foraging and making use of lesser known edibles found in hedgerows and forgotten landscapes. I think my next attempt will be something simple again like nettle soup.
Gavin is wearing Unisex Esther Teal Blocks and Bauhaus in XL. Both items are part of our AW21 Collection.