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. Does anyone have any tips on the easiest way to strain the boiled rose hips? I tied the muslin over a large bowl but the weight of the hips meant I could only strain in batches, and I read that it’s recommended to leave the pulp straining for a good half hour to get every last drop! This would have taken ages but maybe I would have ended up with more liquid. I was only using 700kg of rose hips (which made half a litre of syrup), but I can’t imagine seeing all that fruit sitting on muslin straining, unless I use another method? Well worth the pain of gathering the fruit though!!

  2. Jenni Reyn

    Just about to start making my first ever batch of rosehip syrup, it’s been interesting reading all the information and tips. Thanks

  3. Here I am again instead of watching TV I’m making my first batch of Rose Hip syrup I make enough to last the year.i first made it four years ago when I heard a pundit on the radio say it was good for pain and inflammation in the hip joint.The cost of the tablets are beyond my budget.One week and I was out of pain sometimes it is lurking but a double dose gets rid of it
    Two friends who had the hip pain the same time as me have had hips replaced
    It’s not rocket science go pick the hips

  4. Hi hi.

    I moved to Cornwall six months ago and have gone all out this year with the super early berry harvest. Sloe gin, elderberry liqueur, blackberry liqueur all bottled and I just picked and bottled my first attempt at this rosehip syrup recipe. It’s still cooling so not tasted yet. We have a brewery shop where I live so very useful for picking up the right muslin.

    The best tip I can provide/offer for smaller bottles on the cheap/recycled – Fentimans fizz bottles. 275 ml and screwcap (labels soaked and scraped off and then bottles sterilised). I’d recommend the clear bottles for visual impact but also the brown ones (ginger beer) are good if colour drops out over time, I work in a pub myself so have a constant supply but ask for free ones anytime you are in a pub that sells them (and keep the lids).

    Thanks again. Checking out Rowan and sea buckthorn recipes next as I’ve spotted both driving round the back lanes of Falmouth.

  5. Hi, I’m not sure if I went wrong and over boiled but my syrup is really think. It reminds me of toffee apple syrup. Is this how it should be? I’m afraid it might solidify by the morning.
    Thank you for your help, it tastes really nice.

  6. Tallulah Buttons

    I picked rosehips with my three year old son yesterday for the first time. We ae making the syrup today! Tallulah X

  7. just followed your recipe, and think the 4.5 pints of water is far too much to everporate, next time i will only use 2.5 pints to start with , far easier to everpoate and cheaper , due to the cos of gas and time used to reduce …

  8. can u send me rosehip syrup & rosehip jelly please. my ma m and i are forageing for autum frute when we can. will be making jelly soon.
    i’ve been looking fro this in the book i’ve got here at home. haven’t found it yet. i’d like this for when we’ve got no honey left in the jar. i hate haveing the start of a cold, so this’ll kill it off i hope.

  9. laura eastham

    I want to make some rhubarb and rosehip cordial, would I use your method and just add rhubarb reduce a little more, maybe a bit more sugar?

  10. I have found a small bottle of Rose hip syrup that I made in 1978 . Is it likely to be still edible?

    • Fiona Nevile

      Hi Diana

      Although old wine passes hands for sometimes tidy sums if it was me I’d jettison the 1978 syrup. Not worth the risk!

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