It’s been raining hard down here on the south coast and today at last we were lucky enough to see the big yellow  thing in the sky! Sunshine! So without further due I was out with basket in hand gathering the rosehips. My favorite jewels of the fruit forages crown the beautiful romantic rosehips. What a word go on whisper it, listen to her name “rosehips” as it leaves your lips. (it feels like a kiss does it not?) 

Rose plants are native to Asia but many originate from Europe, North America, and northwest Africa. These beautiful plants delight us in the summer with their fragrant flowers that in turn return as jewels of the forest, in the form of the hips. I do enjoy this plant it looks as good as it tastes the petals make a wonderful jam , and she returns to feed us once more  in the winter months with a hip, which is beautiful  and tastes unique.

This beauty has been around for a while and was first documented in history in the first century AD by  Pithany the Elder who wrote many books one of them “Book 24 :Drugs obtained from the Forest Tress” which mentions the health benefits and cures from rosehips. The plant gets another brief outing in history again during the Middle-Ages, being labelled as a sacred gift. It was grown in church yards and the Catholics would use the hips to make their rosary.  (The Rosary!). It appears in the history books again in full battle dress to help out during the war as these little gems of the forest are not only wonderful to taste, but are high in vitamin C, it is perhaps one of the richest plant sources of this vitamin.  I am lead to believe it rivals the orange! But did you know that it also contains the vitamins E, A and D, alongside antioxidant flavonoids so get picking.

Which is just want I did today I popped over to the Chewton Glen where I forage their fruit and hedgerows to make jam for the hotel. And today I made rosehip syrup.

And here is the recipe.

  • 1 kg of rosehips
  • 5 litres of water
  • 350g of sugar
  • Top and tail the rose hips and pop them into a food process for a short wiz to chop them up. (if not use gloves and chop the hips up to as small as you can manage)
  • Place hips into your jam pan (or large saucepan and add 1.5 litres of water bring to the boil and simmer for 15 -20 minutes or so. Strain the pulp through a jelly bag and let it drip, for at least 20 minutes once cold enough squeeze as much liquid as possible through the bag.
  • Once you have completed this return the hips to the pan and repeat the process, using the rest of the water. And again drip through your bag.
  • Take all your collected juice and place into a large wide pan and simmer until you have 1 litre of hip juice left add the sugar and stir don’t boil the syrup until all the sugar has been dissolved. Bring to the boil and skim of any scum.
  • Finally pour into sterilized bottles or jars, lid and keep in cool place. This should keep up to 3 months.

Cocktail Tea!

Last week managed to entertain many of you at their fantastic event held at the wonderful with the Green Goddess Diane Morgan.

What an amazing afternoon and if you were lucky enough to go. You would have been given a little gift of tea jelly.

I would like to help you make the most of this jelly. Naturally you can enjoy it with most game meats or even stirred into a duck gravy. Its can also be used as an alternative to jam! But as its almost Christmas how about a Martini?

So here my recipe for the perfect pick me up Apéritif.

Start by popping your glass in the freezer

Earl Grey Tea Cocktail (serves 1)

I tablespoon of Earl Grey tea jelly.

Warm the tea jelly to make it a little lose then let it cool

45ml of gin

14ml fresh-squeezed lemon juice

1 teaspoon of dried lavender sprigs.(for decoration)

1/2 teaspoon of sugar

(Borrage flowers if you can get them) (for decoration

1 egg white beaten.
Your also need an old clean jam jar with a lid.

Take all your ingredients ( apart from the lavender and Borrage) and place in the jar screw on the lid and shake like Tom Cruise in the movie Cocktail. (this means dancing and enjoying the moment for at least 3 minutes)

Take your prepared glass out of the freezer and dip the rim in the egg and then in the lavender & sugar so the rim is coated.

Sieve the drink into the glass and place a borrage flower or two on the top. Enjoy.

Pumpkin Jam!

Pumpkin Jam
• 1 pumpkin chopped into one inch chunks and de-seeded (you should end up with about 2kg)
• 5 cloves crushed
• Large Pinch of ginger & cinnamon
• 2kg of sugar
• The juice of two lemons

Place all the ingredients, except the sugar into the jam pan. Cook on a low heat until soft about 30 mins stirring all the time don’t let the pumpkin catch. Once the pumpkin starts to soften add the sugar. Once the sugar has dissolved bring all the ingredients to a rolling boil.
The jam can take up to 20-30 mins to cook through from adding the sugar to setting point. It colour changes to a translucent orange its rather beautiful.
Test for setting and once set store in clean sterilised jars (see Medlar post of details on how to do this)
Enjoy on Halloween and more !

Pumpkin Soup

It drives me mad all those pumpkins going to waste come on everyone eat the pumpkin don’t let your hard work carving go to waste!

Pumpkin & coconut soup (easy recipe)

Pumpkin cut into chunks (about 800g)

I tin of coconut milk

1.liter of vegetable stock

5 shallots chopped very fine.

5- 6 kaver lime leaves, small knob of fresh ginger chopped 2 cloves of garlic.

4 tablespoons of Rapeseed oil

Chop up the mix spices and, add the pumpkin add ½ of the oil and mix it all together with your hands.

Place in an oven proof dish cover with foil and roast in a warm oven at 180 for about 25-30 mins until soft. Remove from the oven. 

In the meantime sweat off the shallots in the rest of the oil. Add the vegetable stock and cook though for about 5mins.

Place all of the ingredients (including the tin of coconut milk) into a blender and blend until smooth, put back onto the pan and warm though don’t boil the soup it will ruin.

 Serve with crusty granny bread.

Notes :

You can add a couple of chili’s to this recipe for a warmer soup and the spices can be increased or decreased to suit your taste buds.

This recipe also works by placing all but the coconut into a pan and cooking on the hob for 40mins until soft then add the milk and then blend.

Medlar Jelly

Medlars The dark brown ones are the ones that have Belted.

Medlars The dark brown ones are the ones that have Belted.

medlar jar

1.5kg crab apples (you can omit these if your confident in setting the jelly) 

2.5kg bletted medlars( ones that have gone soft and brown)

500g firm medlars

3 lemons

3 litres water

1.2kg granulated sugar (this can change you need to measure the amount of juice and add equal amounts of sugar so 1pt =1lb of sugar)

The bletted medlars should be dark and soft before you start. Clean them by removing any stalks and leaves and chopping them in half. Remove any really obvious rotten bits. chop up the lemons and apples into quarters

Place all the fruit chopped into a jam pan (maslin) then add the water.

Slowly bring to fruit and water to boiling point, after 2 mins of boiling reduce the heat and cover the pan with a lid . Simmer and check the pan every 10 mins or so gently with the back of a spoon help break up the fruit.

Once it is mushy and soft this can take up to an hour.

Prepare a jelly bag and pour the fruit and juice into it and let it hang overnight to drip (12 hours) into a clean bowl Don’t squeeze the bag. The following day clean and sterilise a number of jars and lids for the cooking of the jelly.

To sterilized the jars you will need to clean them and warm then in an oven on a heat not greater than 150C to dry the jars and ensure sterilisation. The lids will need to be placed in the oven for a short time also. (If using second hand lids first place a wax disk over the contents of the jar once filled before applying lid.

Now Measure the juice, back into the jam pan and bring to the boil cook for 5 mins.

Measure the juice again and add an equal amount of sugar (which should be about 1 pound to 1 pint of juice ).

Slowly back to the boil and stir until the sugar has completely dissolved. Only boil once the sugar is dissolved, now with a rolling fast boil, continue to cook the jelly checking every 2-3 mins to see if it setting point has been reached.

You can test for jelly by holding the spoon high above the pan and waiting for the drip, once the dip is struggling to leave the spoon your there. Pour jelly into your sterlised jars and lid. Leave to cool and store in a cool dark lace this jelly is perfect with brie or any good cheese.

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Jennifer Williams

Chief Jam Maker

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