Rosehips and Quinces

November 14, 2010 at 4:55 pm | Posted in Aunt Fanny, Eating and Drinking | 1 Comment
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I have previously hypothesised about Aunt Fanny’s skills and knowledge as a countrywoman. Did she make the cough mixture George rubs on Timmy’s chest in Five Go Adventuring Again, for instance? One thing that she would almost certainly have made is rosehip syrup. High in vitamin C, as well as A, E and D it would surely qualify as a ‘superfood’ in modern day parlance.

Rosehip syrup was supplied by the Ministry of Food during the war and a spoonful of this was much more palatable to young tastebuds than the also compulsory cod liver oil (see Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall’s recollections of this in her Ministry of Food cookbook).

Sugar rationing aside, it would have been (and still is) easy enough to make your own rosehip syrup if you were/are able to forage the hedgerows. There are many recipes for this online (Jane F-W also gives an enticing sounding recipe for rosehip jelly), although I am surprised to see no mention of it in Lucy H Yates’ Country Housewife’s Book.

Miss Blyton also talks a little bit about rosehips in her chapter on ‘How Seeds Seek their Fortunes’ in Round the Year: Autumn. Here we go:

‘A great many fruits make themselves juicy, sweet and bright-coloured. The apple is one of these. Right inside it are the little brown seeds, very well protected by the fleshy apple outside. Until the seeds are ripe the apple is green, hard and sour, and no bird is likely to peck it, or human being to eat it. But as soon as the apple is ready there are no lack of eaters! We eat the sweet, juicy part and throw away the hard core that protects the seeds. This is what the apple meant us to do. “Scatter my seeds for me and I will give you a feast!” it says.

The hips and haws do the same for birds. They prepare a brightly coloured, juicy outside, a feast for the thrush and blackbird, but inside they pack their precious seeds, which are not to be eaten by the birds – or, if they are, will pass right through the bird’s body and be cast out far from the parent plant. The hip makes its seeds hairy, so that the birds do not want to eat them [but it makes its] outsides enticing and sweet, to persuade the birds to peck them.’

I’d love to say that I am busy preparing rosehip syrup as I write this but I am not. This post was inspired by the purchase of some delicious rosehip cordial from the fine A Gold, purveyors of traditional English food stuffs. In my defence, I am currently poaching quinces (and jolly nice they smell too), purchased yesterday at the London Fields School off-shoot of Broadway Market (at the bargain price of £1.50 for approximately 1lb). The English quince is in season between October and December and as an everyday food has become rather neglected in recent years (the exception being quince jelly or membrillo). This is possibly because it is nigh on impossible to eat when raw. It is as hard as a rock.  Given this obstacle, I am sad to say that amongst the plants and trees Enid discusses, she does not mention how the quince in particular manages to spread its seeds.


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  1. […] skills and interests as a country housewife, mostly because this gives me an excuse to write about making fruit syrups, how to use milk to remove freckles and how to make traditional remedies for all manner of […]

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