Sandra SimpsonRose hip remedies

Hands up who remembers keeping the winter chills and ills at bay with rosehip syrup? Memories of a spoonful stirred into a glass of hot water, producing a beautiful rosy-coloured drink, is as much a part of my childhood winters as open fires and flannel vests.


I hadn’t thought much about rosehip syrup as being something that’s disappeared off our shelves in New Zealand until I stumbled on a piece on the internet about some of the history of the brew that was made from wild-growing Central Otago sweet briar hips (Rosa rubiginosa).
During World War 2 the hips were sent to factories in Dunedin to be made into syrup which was used by mothers and children, including infants, to boost Vitamin C intake at a time when fresh fruit and vege weren’t always plentiful. Read more about that here (with photos of the briars growing wild).

red rose hipsMothers received government coupons which could be exchanged for rosehip syrup (wonder what we’d give coupons for now?) Apparently rosehips have 20 times more Vitamin C than a comparable weight of oranges.

Muriel Bell is a name not well known in New Zealand, but what a life of achievement she led, particularly concerned by the need for a healthy diet (and this was in the first half of the 20th century). In among all her projects – pasteurised milk, the vitamin content of fruit and vege, fluoridated water and better-quality bread – was the promotion of rosehip syrup for mothers and babies during the war years. Needless to say, this health advocate (and a doctor and a scientist) was known as “Battle-axe Bell”.

The Curious Kai blog has a great posting about rosehips so I’ll shut up and let you click on the link and read that (includes a recipe and lots of pictures). The Heritage Roses NZ website also includes a recipe for rosehip syrup, while Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has a fairly simple-sounding recipe.

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Sandra Simpson

About Sandra Simpson

Sandra Simpson is a long-time journalist who in 2008 was asked to write a weekly garden feature for her local daily newspaper in Tauranga, New Zealand. Since then she’s visited beautiful gardens, met great people and attended several shows. In 2012 she started her own blog, Sandra’s Garden to share more of the people, places and events that make her corner of the world so bountiful.

One thought on “Rose hip remedies

  1. Something warm and nostalgic about your post, thanks Sandra. Am married to a Kiwi and always amazed and impressed at what marvellous standard bearers they have produced in all manner of industry, science and sport. Maybe Battleaxe Bell and her dietary wisdom had a lot to do with this.

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