rose hip ruminations and cougar sightings

I went back to my favorite spot to harvest a few rose hips.  Three days ago I was there walking with my Mama and my daughter and the rose hips just beckoned to be admired.  Voluptuous and cheery, the sun glistened on their waxy skins.  I got closer to them to inhale their scent and watched all the wild birds fluttering around inside the depths of the spiny bushes.  They were feasting too.  As I walked up the trail this time, a sign had been posted on the trail that a cougar had been seen 3 days before - the very day that I had been there with my family.  It warned that solo adventures should be avoided.  Well that put a kink in my plans.  Just a few rose hips...just a morsel of a dog...hmmm...just a quick trip? I decide to gather some in another spot.  I gathered about 2 pounds of rose hips.  Being November, many had been exposed to frost and some were starting to grow soft.  Rather than dry them for tea, I had thought of making them into cordial.  I have a bounty of various cordials at the moment - the sour cherry and cacao turned out spectacular (thank you for the inspiration Joyce Netishen!) and I made a lot for holiday gifts.  I found many postings on line from England espousing their love for rose hip syrup.  I had never tried it before, and I was intrigued to make something that my daughter could enjoy too.  I learned that it has been used as a folk remedy for the young and the old for helping to boost the immune system and ward off colds.  High in vitamin C, bioflavonoids, and vitamin D, it is no wonder it is so beneficial.  It is also being sought after as a remedy for achy joints and osteoarthritis.  Today a man told me that his joints ached due to the change in weather and the sudden cold temperatures.  I thought of rose hip.  It makes sense to me that medicine for aching joints would present itself at this time of year, just when you need it most.  So here is my first attempt at making syrup.  It turned out amazing.  I am tempted to go out and gather more!  

about 2 lbs rose hips chopped roughly by knife or pulsed in a food processor

In a stainless steel cook pot, I covered the rose hips with water and about an inch above.  Over low heat, bring the rose hips to a boil.  Let simmer for 15-20 minutes.  Take off the heat and let cool.  I found that the rose hips absorbed a lot of the water.  I strained off the liquid left remaining through double layers of muslin.  I then covered the rose hips with the same amount of water and did the same thing all over again.  I pressed as much juice out of the rose hips as I could and then fed what was left to the chickens.  They loved it!  

The decanted liquid is cloudy, orange, and tasty.  I had about a half gallon of liquid and poured it back into the pot.  I added half as much sugar to the pot - so 4 cups.  You could use honey or maple syrup too - but I really wanted to taste the rose hip.  I think next batch I will make with honey and compare.  I cooked this down at a simmer over low heat and let it reduce until it thickened, stirring often.  This took about 30 minutes.  

While the syrup was cooking, I sterilized clean 8 oz canning jars jars in a 250 degree oven and kept them in there until I needed them.  I had the water going for the water bath on another burner and lids in hot water on yet another.  I ladled the syrup into hot jars, set the lids and bands and put them in the hot water bath for 10 minutes.  Remove jars and let cool on a rack.  I kept one out that wasn't quite full and resisted downing the whole thing.  Yield was 9 jars.  Once opened they will keep about a week or two in the fridge.  If they last that long...Rosy goodness.