Rose Hip Cordial

This seems eminently more logical to me for preserving vitamin C for the winter months. A hot tea of the dried rose-hips is lovely but boiling water compromises the vitamin C content.

Rose hips have more vitamin C the further north they grow. Floridians already have all those lemons and oranges, but in Scotland, or around Hudson's Bay, two individual rosehips can have as much vitamin C as a whole orange.

Collect 2 pints of fresh wild rose hips, just after the first hard frost. (The frost sweetens them.) Don't collect from roadsides or where herbicides or pesticides may have been sprayed. "Top and tail" (remove stem and petal ends), rinse and let drip dry in a colander.

2 pints fresh rose hips
1 liter brandy
1 cup sugar

Fill sterilized jar(s) with rose hips--as many as will fit without crushing--leaving room for the brandy to move freely. Add sugar. Fill to top of jar(s) with brandy and cover with a leak-proof lid.

Keep on the kitchen counter, but not in direct sunlight. Shake every day for 3 weeks. Strain through a cheese-cloth or fine-meshed strainer into glass bottles and cap. This will keep for six months to a year in a cupboard.

Of course, this is a tincture, in which the solvent, brandy, extracts the bio-chemically active nutritional and medicinal components from the rose hips. Alcohol tinctures are an ancient method of preserving food stuffs for the winter, and have come to be known as cordials, aperitifs and liqueurs. Sloe gin is made from the "sloes" or berries of the blackthorn shrub (prunus spinosa). There is Benedictine, of course, probably the oldest liqueur, made from lemon balm, hyssop, thyme, cinnamon, cloves and other herbs. There are raki and ouzo, anise-flavored drinks from Turkey and Greece. Those of you who have had workshops with me know that all the aromatic herbs have antiseptic, digestive-aid and central nervous system revitalization properties.

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