Wild Flower Syrup 

 

Summer lags behind this year and I’ve been waiting to start picking, so I can get making. Last year it was me that lagged behind, so this year I didn’t want to waste any opportunities. I managed some foraging on a sunny day, a rarity at present and decided to make syrup, trying to get that one hot sunny day bottled!

Syrups are versatile, perfect at catching the essence of something, preserving that moment for a later date. Pour your syrupy creation on pancakes, use as a cordial, cocktail mixer (I’m thinking with Prosecco, yum), over ice cream… and so on.  Cheap to make and the ingredients are on your doorstep, just get out there and capture summer in a bottle.

There are many scented flowers out there to create a syrup with.  Classically you could stick to a single flower like elderflower or rose or you could collect others and make a wildflower syrup.  You can use dandelion, hawthorn, wild roses.  You can look in your own garden, use roses that have not been treated with fertiliser or pesticides, or use herbs you find there.  Experimentation with flavours would be a good idea.  Rose & thyme?  Elderflower & basil?  Who knows, I’m just throwing them out there?
So I found elderflower, hawthorn and some rose from the garden, the recipe I have used is adapted from River Cottage Hedgerow, it’s a great book and worth a look.

Ingredients

  • Lots of freshly picked blossoms (1 litre ish)
  • Up to 1kg sugar
  • Up to 500ml water

As the amount of flowers collected is unknown, it’s just important to make a note of your weight of sugar at the start, subtract the sugar you have left after ‘layering’, then you know how much you have used, you need to know this quantity later.

Take your blossoms and layer them approximately 2cm at the bottom at the bottom of your jar or jug.  Next add a 1cm layer of sugar and repeat till your reach the top.  If any of your blossoms are bulky, press them down to pack them in a bit.  But the layering does not have to be a work of art, as you can see, mine clearly isn’t and some layers have merged.

  
Cover your jug/jar and leave it alone for 24 hours. 

Empty your mixture into a saucepan and add to it 50mls water for for every 100g sugar you used (the quantity you worked out earlier).  

  
Heat the mixture gently, stir until all the sugar is dissolved.  Strain through a muslin or cheese cloth (even a clean tea towel would do) into a clean jug.

Pour the syrup into a sterilised bottle (see the  Elderflower Cordial recipe on how to sterilise bottles).  If you don’t use the syrup right away, store in the fridge, once you do open it.

Rosehip Anti-aging Facial Oil

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Last year I was given a small bottle of Rosehip oil, my skin was thankful, my face was much better moisturised, and it definitely improved problem areas. The only problem was that this lovely oil was almost £20 for a small vial. Which got me thinking, there are so many rosehips out there as easy pickings, so I set about to make my own oil.

Rosehips have long been famous for high vitamin C content and used as a syrup to boost the immune system such as this recipe here They are also high in retinoic acid and essential fatty acids (omega 3 and 6), all of which are essential for tissue regeneration and skin replenishment. The benefits don’t end there, it’s also been shown to help in scar healing, stretch marks, and pigmentation problems, it’s no wonder the beauty industry has cottoned onto this gem.

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So why pay through the nose to the beauty giants for anti-aging preparations and facial serums to regenerate your skin when the rosehips are right on your doorstep in the hedgerows? Not only that the facial oil is so easy to make. It’s easier than baking a cake and your skin, your bank balance and maybe even your friends (if you want to share) will thank you for it.

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The Rosehips are easy to find in the hedgerows and almond oil is available from any good chemist or online. The oil is also good for any skin type it’s not too oily for oily skin and its moisturising for dry skin, just nourishing all round.

Ingredients

250g Rosehips
500mls Almond oil

Leave the rosehips out on a tray overnight to wilt slightly and then chop finely, ideally just whizz in a food processor. There are 2 methods to extract their goodness depending on what you find easiest, infusing with heat or by cold maceration.

For the warming method:
Put the rosehips in an oven proof dish and cover with the almond oil. Heat gently in an oven for 3-4 hours. The temperature needs to be under 65C

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For the cold method:
Fill a jar with the Rosehips and cover with the oil, keep the lid off but put secure a muslin cloth or paper towel over the top to allow moisture out but no dust in. Leave in a warm place or sunny window sill for 2-3 weeks. Try and exclude light, so wrap a tea towel around it, or cover with a paper bag if it’s easier.

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Then strain the oil through a muslin or coffee filter paper and funnel, pressing out as much oil as you can. Put in a preserving jar or similar and let it settle for a week. Decant off the oil leaving the sediment behind and pour into dark glass jars. (The almond oil jars are usually dark glass so these are ideal).

Then your Rosehip oil is ready to use. I apply it to my face, use 3-4 adrops around needy areas. Can be used as a massage oil and applied to rough skin and dermatitis conditions.

The next step is to make some creams out of the oil to complement what I have made and then I also have some Christmas gifts all ready sorted, easy peasy! But that’s for another days blogging!