We’re just under a week away from the first day of fall and I’m still plucking tomatoes almost daily. Like most people I’ve spoken to, tomatoes ripened late this year, even for those of us who started from seed indoors in February.
I did, however, speak to a market gardener who told me they’ve given up started inside so early, as they’ve found directly sowing their tomatoes have proven to be just as effective. Safe to say I’ll be trying this next year...
Though it didn’t take long after the first couple had ripened for us to have too many to count. We grew several different varieties this year, including the tiny red currant cherry tomatoes, garden peach slicers, purple cherokees – and a few others in between (I had saved some seeds from the previous year, but got others from the Incredible Seed Company – where they stock a variety of other heirlooms). Bringing to mind the idea that colourful food is SO much more fun to eat!
However, with intentions today to store away both our rosehips and surplus of tomatoes – I began with the rosehips first.
About a week ago or so, I plucked a couple dozen rosehips that looked ripe and ready. I had recently tried the most delicious and refreshing iced tea (at a women’s herbal retreat called Lady’s Slipper) and was told it was made using mainly rosehips and a few other seasonal ingredients. In hopes to try and recreate it using our own rosehips from the garden, I intended to dehydrate ours to make our own – hopefully similar – tea blend.
Having never dehydrated rosehips, I figured I ought to do my due dilligence in order to determine the best way to go about doing so and look it up. I found that people had both dehydrated rosehips whole and others, halfing them and removing the seeds and hairs hiding inside. On one hand, I can understand entirely why people just throw them into a dehydrator whole, as they’re finicky to try and remove all the innards (which I realized pretty quickly). However, I’ve also read that the hairs can be irritating to the throat, as mentioned in the video I refer to below (If you have any experience with this, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!).
In trying to find the easiest to remove the innards (I figured there had to be a trick), I came across this wonderful video from the Okanagan Lavender & Herb Farm, All About Rosehips // harvesting & preparing for syrup & tea, and decided to make rosehip syrup instead.
With cold weather on the horizon, and several coworkers sick with Covid, I figure what better thing to have on hand than some rosehip syrup chock full of vitamin C!
Using their recipe, I had just enough rosehips (4 cups) – hairs and stems removed – to make a bottle. After removing any debris and giving them a quick rinse, I added the 4 cups to 2 cups worth of boiling water on the stovetop. After simmering for 20 minutes (keeping covered), I strained the rosehip syrup into a double boiler using a fine cheesecloth.
Side note: instead of composting the leftover rosehips, I decided to make a tincture with the remnants instead, making a gentle extract with what’s remaining. Hey here’s a thought – you could even add it to your syrup thereafter to kick it up a gear!
In the video, she suggested using 2 cups of sugar to 1 cup worth of rosehip syrup. I wound up with 1.25 cups of syrup and opted for using honey instead. Adding in 1.25 cups of raw unpasteurized wildflower honey (it’s recommended you use 1/2-3/4 the amount of honey as your would for sugar, as it’s much sweeter).
Using a double boiler, I dissolved the honey into the rosehip syrup on as low of heat as possible to refrain from losing any more vitamin C. From there I added 1.5 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice and siphoned it into a bottle (and ended up needing a second for a small amount leftover) – and voila!
I’m looking forward to adding a spoonful to my teas overwinter or having it on its own when my immunity could use a little boost (and a reminder of the sweet taste of summer).
Though I had intended to boil and can all of my tomatoes today as well, I think I’ll now leave that for another day.