I've made this a few times now, and love to put it on my porridge and pancakes. Packed full of vitamin C, an excuse for a good walk, and really sweet. What is there not to like (well a few scratches but its all good fun)
Some of the hips I gathered were already going soft while others were rock hard.
Luckily boiling them up helps to soften the flesh and release the juices.
Separating the juice from the mush
Here is the recipe I followed, although I scaled mine down a bit because of the amount of hips gathered on the last trip. It was reprinted in the River Cottage Handbook - Hedgerow by John Wright. An excellent read and well worth buying if your into foraging. Its also floating around on the web. There are other ways to make it too, but I like the fact that even back in the war years people were bothered about preserving the vitamin content by following this method.
The directions given by the Ministry of Food during the war for 2 pounds (900gm) of hips.
Boil 3 pints (1.7 litres) of boiling water.
Mince hips in a course mincer (food processor) and put immediately into the boiling water.
Bring to boil and then 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 11/2 pints (852ml) 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 cupful of liquid and allow to drip through again.
Put the mixed juice into a clean saucepan and boil down until the juice measures about 11/2 pints (852ml), then add 11/4 (560gm) 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 hour just previously and after insertion coated with melted paraffin wax.
It is advisable to use small bottles as the syrup will not keep for more than a week or two once the bottle is opened.
Store in a dark cupboard.
Source: The Hedgerow Harvest, MoF, 1943 and the BBC Radio 4 Website