I've been beavering away on a new collection, but it's a little time sensitive, so I'm going to have to release it one piece at a time.
The idea is to create pieces of jewellery which celebrate some of the wonderful herbs and plants from the countryside around me, each with it's own recipe or story.
My garden and the nearby hedgerows are groaning with the weight of the lush, red Rosehips, so I thought it would be a good place to start.
Rosehips are wonderful things. Not only do they add a lovely splash of vibrant colour to the autumnal palette, they're packed full of goodness. I hadn't realised just how much until I looked into it.
They have 20 times more vitamin C than oranges, plus vitamins D and E. We get most of our vitamin D from the sunshine, so coming into Winter this a lovely boost to the system and Vitamin E's a powerful antioxidant. They're said to enhance energy levels, reduce pain, decrease swelling and inflammation in the joints and help you have a good nights sleep.
So, armed with my favourite basket and a pocketful of treats (for Socks, honestly), my trusty mutt and I set out on another foraging mission.
I'm always conscious of reducing the amount of sugar we eat as a family (not always successfully), so I didn't want to make a syrup laden with processed sugar. Because of it's health benefits, I plumped for Honey.
Honey's antibacterial, it's brilliant for coughs and sore throats, it contains antioxidants and although it's a sugar, it's exact combination of fructose and glucose is said to help regulate blood sugar levels. It's like some sort of magical elixir, that humans can't recreate. I find it fascinating that jars of honey have been discovered in Egyptian tombs and they're still edible.
Anyway.....before I go off on a tangent about the wonders of honey, lets get back to the recipe.
It's one that I've sort of cobbled together myself. I looked at how other people were doing it and then went my own way....not a new occurrence!
First of all, you need some Rosehips. Well, more than some, lots...
I ended up with about 1kg of them. Pop them in the food processor and chop them up. I should point out that it's not a good idea to put your hands in them when they're in the chopped state (certainly not while they're in the processor, but no one's that silly). As well as having wonderful health benefits, they make great itching powder!! The seeds are covered in lots of tiny little hairs which are really irritating. I apologise now to all the people who I tortured in my school days with them.
Put the chopped Rosehips in a pan with some water, (I used 1 1/2 litres for my 1kg of hips) and bring them to the boil. Turn off the heat and let them steep for about 30 minutes.
While you're waiting, turn the oven on, wash up the glass containers you're going to store it in. For me it was a motley selection of jam jars. We're renovating our house and anything not essential (like the lovely glass bottles I have) has gone into the loft. Once you've washed them, place them on a baking tray and pop them in the oven (at about 140 C) to dry. This way they'll be sterilised when they come out.
Now you need to strain your Rosehip soup. If you have one of those Jam bag thingys (technical term), you can use that, but I didn't so I used a muslin cloth folded so it was double layered and laid it in a sieve, over a big bowl.
Pour the mixture into the cloth and leave it to drain through. Leave it until it's cool enough to handle, then pick up the cloth and give it a good squeeze to get all the lovely juices out.
Put all the squeezed mush back into the saucepan and add a little more water, I used just enough to cover it, bring it to the boil again, turn off the heat and leave it to steep for another 20 minutes.
Repeat the process of straining it through a double layer of muslin. I used another muslin for this to make sure I didn't cover myself in little itchy hairs. When it's cool enough, give it another good squeeze to get the last of the goodness out.
Now for the honey.
This bit's down to personal taste. I didn't want the honey to overpower the flavour of the Rosehips. I was left with about 1 1/2 litres of Rosehip juice. I added one jar of honey to mine (340g), put it back on a gentle heat and dissolved the honey into the mixture.
Pour your mixture into your cooled jars and put the lids on. I'm not very sure how long it will last, but I've read that with honey in it, it's good for a year unopened. Keep it in the fridge once you've opened it.
The result wasn't very syrupy, but oh my goodness, it tastes amazing! I like to fill a mug about a third full with the syrup and top it up with boiling water. Rosehip and honey tea, my new favourite tipple (don't tell wine I said that...).
I've also been giving it to my son, cunningly disguised as super power juice.
So here's to a winter hopefully free from colds! Thank you Rosehips (and Honey) for all your wonderful goodness and for tasting quite so yummy.
In honour of the Rosehip, I've created a Silver Rosehip Pendant. They feel organic and have a natural wibbiliness (is that a word?). A little piece of natures wonder captured forever. If you'd like to own one, or know someone who would, you'll find them HERE.
My head's brimming with ideas and there will be more pieces coming to the 'In Honour Of' Collection. However there's always room for more ideas, do you have any family recipes or little know uses for countryside bounty? I'd love to hear about them....
"Beautiful, sometimes eccentric jewellery for beautiful, sometimes eccentric people."