Sunday, 16 December 2012

What is it? #12 revealed

photo: Gatehouse studio
These berries are called rosehips and are the fruit of the dog rose or Rosa canina. They have lots of uses and are made into jams, jellies, syrups and drinks. They are packed full of vitamin C so have recently become a treat for small rodents such as pet guinea pigs as they cannot manufacture their own vitamin C and are unable to digest many vitamin C rich foods. They are also fed to horses in small doses to improve the condition of their coats.

Due to their valuable vitamin content, rosehips are eaten around the world. In Hungary they are used to make Palinka, a traditional alcoholic drink and in Slovenia they are the main ingrediant of the national soft drink called Cockta whilst, rosehip soup, 'nyponsoppa' is popular in Sweden.

During World War Two, Claire Loewenfeld, a dietitian who worked at Great Ormond Street hospital, encouraged people to collect rosehips to make a vitamin rich syrup for children as citrus fruits from abroad were increasingly difficult to import. However, children discovered a different quality that the berries had. If split open, they contain small hairs that are extremely itchy to the skin, therefore, rosehips soon became used as a home made itching powder to entertain the hours away.

It's not just vitamin C, rosehips also contain vitamin A and B and lycopene, an important antioxident. All rosehips are edible, and good for you, so, if you fancy making your own rosehip chutney, check out a recipe here. Alternatively, banish those winter colds with a lovely rosehip syrup that can be poured over ice cream or use to make a drink for the kids.

If cooking's not your thing then just go for a winter walk, look out for the last few bright red berries and content yourself with the fact that at least some of the local wildlife can get the benefit of these delicious wild foods.

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