The Cottage Smallholder

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Katey’s Rosehip Syrup recipe

rose hips in our garden in august

August rose hips in our garden

All my life I’ve loved wading through fallen leaves. At their best they have settled in frothy, tempting drifts on dull pavements. Crisp, dry, and waiting to be ruffled by any passer by. Just remembering the swish and crunch gives me goose bumps. To get the best effect, keep your feet close to the ground and use a skiing motion. This has to be a solitary activity, unless you are under six.

As a child this delight and a daily spoonful of rosehip syrup heralded the start of winter. At home we queued up, in order of age, as my mother doled out the syrup from a small bottle. She called it medicine. I’m sure that this is why it took me ages, as an adult, to consider trying rosehip syrup again. I discovered that homemade rosehip syrup is delicious and worth making. It is a good natural source of vitamin C. It also contains vitamins A, D and E, and antioxidants.

We have two large rose bushes growing on the east wall at the back of the cottage, that produce hundreds of hips each year. We use these to make apple and rosehip jelly in October. When the hips are softened by November frosts, we make syrup. Lots of it. We give a few bottles away to friends who are laid up with bad colds but most of our giant batch is guzzled by us throughout the winter. It tastes too good to be earmarked solely for the sick bed. Danny loves it stirred into creamy yoghurt or swirled over some home made vanilla ice cream. Somewhere in the barn, a demijohn of rosehip wine is still fermenting from last autumn.

If you don’t have roses in your garden there are lots of briar roses in the hedgerows. They are difficult to spot from a car so if you are somewhere rural and have half an hour to spare, it’s well worth walking or cycling along a footpath or a quiet country lane to see what you can find. Try and avoid busy roads as the fruit will have been exposed to exhaust fumes and nasties. Keep a couple of carrier bags in your coat pocket, just in case.

This recipe was given to me by my friend Katey. It is similar to the recipe given out by The Ministry of Food during WW2, although their’s has more sugar. She remembers being frogmarched to pick hips for rosehip syrup as a child. This didn’t put her off, she still makes it today.

Katey’s Rosehip Syrup recipe


  • 4.5 pts of water
  • 2 lbs of rosehips
  • 1lb of white granulated sugar


  1. There is no need to top and tail the rosehips if the liquid is going to be strained through a muslin bag. If you are using a steam juicer, pass the liquid through muslin – it will only take a few minutes.
  2. Bring 3 pts of water to the boil.
  3. Mince the rosehips through a course profile mincer (or food processor).
  4. Transfer the fruit into fast boiling water and bring to the boil again. Remove from heat and leave for 15 minutes.
  5. Pour through a sterilised jelly bag/or muslin square (how do I sterilise a jelly bag or muslin square? See Tips and tricks below) and allow the majority of the liquid to drip through.
  6. Return the pulp to the pan and add 1.5 pts of fresh boiling water and bring to the boil. Remove from heat and leave for 15 minutes.
  7. Strain through the jelly bag again.
  8. Pour extracted liquid into a clean saucepan and boil to reduce the liquid to 1.5 pts.
  9. Add the sugar and boil rapidly fro another 5 minutes. Pour into hot sterile bottles and seal immediately. (How do I sterilise bottles? See Tips and tricks below).

Tips and tricks:

  • Use small bottles (we use recycled vinegar bottles) as it only keeps for a week or so once opened. If you don’t want to use bottles the syrup can be frozen in cubes.
  • How do I sterilise a jelly bag or muslin square?

Both can be scalded with boiling water. If you are using a clean muslin bag or square you can iron them with a hot iron. This also works with tea cloths.

  • How do I sterilise bottles?

The sterilising method that we used is simple. Just before making the syrup, I quickly wash and rinse the bottles and place them upside down in a cold oven. Set the temperature to 160? (140? fan-assisted). When the oven has reached the right temperature I turn off the heat. The bottles will stay warm for quite a while. sterilise the lids by boiling these for a few minutes in water.

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  1. Lorraine

    This thread brought back memories of having a competition with the rest of the pupils in my school “Bolton Low Houses” to see who gathered the most in weight. These were then turned into rose hip syrup by the school cook and served on top of the rice pudding, I hated school but the school dinners in the small village school were exceptional and the dinner lady Nanie “Mary Graham” was loved by all.

  2. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Marian

    Good news, if you are making this syrup using the muslin drip method, there is no need to top and tail. Thanks for the nudge – I’ll update the recipe.

  3. Have read most of the comments on here but there are so many that I’ve not read them all. My question is: do you really need to top and tail the roships? It’s a hellish job for my poor arthritic paws and as they don’t end up in the finished prodcut is it necessary? Sorry if this has already been covered.

  4. Jane Plant

    Hi I made syrup and cordial last year with your recipe. I loved it and so did the family. Just about to start again and hoping I don’t have to wait til the first frost as the hips are ready with all this warm weather and need to be picked.Have a 1 yr.old grandson who I’m making the syrup for, (memories of Delrosa from the baby clinic as a child)and hope to keep him healthy all winter with all the Vit C.You can re-use the berries over again till they stop giving any juice then boil all the liquid up together. Happy days. I no longer open the rose hips and scrape out seeds, way too fiddly!

  5. Made rosehip syrup .froze it ,really delish and so easy to do.
    Been meaning to make it for years the hips were huge,the size of a plum.
    Picked 3lb 4oz from my front hedge.

  6. Stan Mild

    Hi Fiona, using this recipe my rosehip syrup turned out perfectly. The time consuming part seems to be topping and tailing the rosehips. Do you think it’s necessary? Have you ever tried skipping this part? Some recipes don’t seem to mention it.

    Maybe I just don’t have the patience. I’ve still haven’t managed to leave a bottle of your lemon gin recipe in the boot of the car for more than a year!

    Best wishes, Stan.

    • Fiona Nevile

      Hi Stan

      I use a fruit steamer to extract the juice so no longer top and tail the rosehips 😉 Like you I’m not very patient and before I got the juice extracor tried mincing the rose hips whole and the taste of the syrup was fine.

      Yes the lemon gin needs patience. Generally after a year in the boot I move the bottles into the barn to mature. There they are out of sight and not so tempting.

  7. Hi Katey, thanks for all your guidance on rosehip syrup. I bought some dried Rosehips on Ebay and want to buy more.
    Some questions please.
    Some are advertised for horses to eat? Some are described as just ‘Shells’ are they usable like the whole dried variety? How would you ensure that you buy the correct rosehips and they are safe to use to make syrup for humans please?

  8. Derrick Davey

    Thanks, i think I’ll try the method above also as it is simpler. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

  9. Derrick Davey

    Would this recipe also work with Hawthorne berries?

    • Fiona Nevile

      I have no idea, Derrick. If you do try using hawthorne berries I’d be interested to hear how it turns out.

      I’ve found this recipe that might be of interest

  10. Chooklegs

    Thank you for posting this recipe Fn!
    This was my first try at making syrup/jam etc of any kind so it was a bit of a mess to start with – getting the rosehips minced was an absolute disaster! (Kitchen covered in sticky Rosehips – they kept popping out of the mincer & bouncing around on the floor!)
    In the end I just put them into the pot whole and mashed them up later…
    I also squeezed the bag because I was too impatient and have ended up with a cloudy syrup….. but the colour! So lovely!
    I think for a first try it turned out pretty well, and I’ve learned that these things take TIME so need to be more patient next time!
    Thanks again, will be making it again next year!

    p.s. Jeremy, thank you so much for the tip about not washing them in the machine…. mine were already in & waiting to be washed…. I took them out as soon as I read your post!

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