Make It - Cook It

A wartime recipe for rosehip syrup

I was wondering what to do with the abundance of rosehips I get each year on my rambling rose when I came across this wartime recipe from The Ministry of Food. When food was short during the second world war every possible edible resource had to be exploited and the MoF issued these instructions for making rosehip syrup out of about 2 pounds (900gm) of hips.


  1. Boil 3 pints (1.7 litres) of boiling water.
  2. Mince the hips in a course mincer (nowadays a food processor will do!) and pour immediately into the boiling water.
  3. Bring to boil and then place aside for 15 minutes.
  4. Pour into a flannel or linen crash jelly bag (presumably some fine muslin will do?) and allow to drip until the bulk of the liquid has come through.
  5. Return the residue to the saucepan, add one and a half pints (852ml) of boiling water, stir and allow to stand for 10 minutes.
  6. Pour back into the jelly bag and allow to drip through. To make sure all the sharp hairs are removed, put back the first half cupful of liquid and allow to drip through again.
  7. Put the mixed juice into a clean saucepan and boil down until the juice measures about one and a half pints (852ml), then add one and a quarter pounds (560gm) of sugar and boil for a further 5 minutes.
  8. Pour into hot sterile bottles and seal at once.


  • If corks are used, these should have been boiled for hour just previously and after insertion DSC00628coated with melted paraffin wax.
  • It is advisable to use small bottles as the syrup will not keep for more than a week or two once the bottle is opened.
  • Store in a dark cupboard.

Source: The Hedgerow Harvest, Ministry of Food , 1943

What to do with your rosehip syrup

  • You can do what my Mum did when I was a kid and give it to  your children to keep colds at bay – rosehip syrup is full of Vitamin C
  • You can pour it on your pancakes or drip it on your ice cream
  • Dilute it and drink it
  • Add it to a glass of white wine (like a Kir)

Any other ideas?

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There are 8 comments

  1. Posted by Hilary Bruffell on August 1, 2009 at 8:12pm

    It seems that rose hips are a bit of a wonder food. Apart from vitamin C, they also have A,D and E and it can also act as an anti-inflammatory and is meant to be better than paracetemol at tackling the pain of osteoathritis. I am going to have to try making this!

  2. Posted by Clare Flynn on August 1, 2009 at 9:22pm

    I have a ton of hips on my rambler now - and I was waiting for them to turn bright red - but have been advised this afternoon to pluck them while still orangey red - before they get soft. Will try and do it tomorrow - or Monday. I was brought up on rose hip syrup! - but think it might actually be nicer with ice cream or as a kir rather than the way I had it as a kid.

  3. Posted by Clare Flynn on August 7, 2009 at 3:16pm

    Ok I've just made it - and have some more TOP TIPS! - have a look on the blog

  4. Posted by Jams, pickles and preserves | Make it and Mend it on June 30, 2010 at 1:01pm

    [...] A particular favourite among baby boomers reclaiming their childhood memories is Rosehip Syrup. Try this >>Wartime recipe for Rosehip syrup [...]

  5. Posted by How to freeze summer fruits | Make it and Mend it on July 23, 2010 at 6:52pm

    [...] I only have  a small garden and so don’t tend to have a lot of fruit to freeze, but I do have a big rambling rose that is always laden with hips and I’ve had very good results freezing them until I’m ready to do something with them. (such as make rosehip syrup). [...]

  6. Posted by Rose Hips | Food on a Budget .com on August 4, 2010 at 7:21pm

    [...] of vitamin C, usually made into a syrup or jelly and have a documented use since medieval times and Rose Hip syrup became a very important source of vitamin C during the Second World War when oranges were not [...]

  7. Posted by jessame on October 2, 2010 at 12:10am

    Hi, just wondering how long rosehip syrup will keep when unopned?thanks

  8. Posted by Clare Flynn on October 2, 2010 at 10:39am

    Jessame - it should keep if well sealed and unopened in a dark place for a year. Once you open it you need to use in a couple weeks Clare F