Wild roses such as Rosa Canina (the dog rose) are perhaps a little plain to look at, compared to their modern cousins. Generally smaller single flowers in various shades of pink, they have one outstanding feature. The attractive red hips produced in the fall.
I think that the name dog rose comes from an old belief that the rose hips offered some protection against the bite of mad dogs. I can't find anything to support this, but it seems reasonable considering the high levels of vitamin C and anti-oxidents in the hips.
The flowers are very similar to the rugosa variety, and it is sometimes used as a rootstock for grafting.
The dog rose is nearly always some shade of pale pink, with 5 petals. Small backward facing thorns help it to climb through hedgerows. Hips are described as "flask shaped". So oval, higher than they are wide. The hips are more red, although you can find various shades of almost orange colored ones.
The hips are incredibly rich in vitamin C. These days, it's so easy to go to the local supermarket and get whatever you need, but in times past the rose hips were made full use of. Rose hip syrup, and jelly were used to substitute the lack of fresh fruit in WW2.
I have found an old recipe for Rosehip syrup, as provided by the then Ministy of Food (UK)
Have ready 3 pints (1.7.litres) of boiling water, mince 2 lbs (900 grams) of hips in a coarse mincer, drop immediately into the boiling water or if possible mince the hips directly into the boiling water and again bring to the boil. Stop heating and place aside for 15 minutes. Pour into a flannel or linen crash jelly bag and allow to drip until the bulk of the liquid has come through.
Return the residue to the saucepan, add 1.5 pints (850 ml) of boiling water, stir and allow to stand for 10 minutes. Pour back into the jelly bag and allow to drip. To make sure all the sharp hairs are removed put back the first half cup full of liquid and allow to drip through again. Put the mixed juice into a clean saucepan and boil down until the juice measures about 1.5 pints (850 ml), then add 1.5 lbs (560 grams) of sugar and boil for a further 5 minutes.
Pour into hot sterile bottles and seal at once. If corks are used these should have been boiled for 15 minutes just previously and after insertion coated with melted paraffin wax. It is advisable to use small bottles as the syrup will not kept for more than a week or two once the bottle is opened. Store in a dark cupboard.
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