Refresh with Hibiscus

Brewed as a puckery red tea, hibiscus is enjoyed as a refreshing and medicinal beverage throughout the world. The sour red “fruits” are also enjoyed in jams, chutneys, conserves, and alcoholic fermented beverages. Hibiscus has been widely adopted in tropical regions around the globe as a refreshing medicinal food and beverage. It is quite popular in the Caribbean and Central America as a cold herbal tea mixed with sugar; this drink is called sorrel in the islands and agua de flor de Jamaica in Mexico. It is also widely used in Africa and South America as a beverage tea, medicinal herb, and food. In many parts of the world, roselle “fruits” are sold fresh at market. Roselle has been used medicinally in many traditional cultures for its diuretic, hypotensive, and antimicrobial properties. In Mexico, roselle is highly regarded as a natural liver and kidney tonic and weight-loss herb. With its demulcent and soothing qualities, hibiscus is also used acutely to assuage colds, mouth sores, and sore throat.

Hibiscus is my kind of herb. It is highly medicinal and nutritive and easily prepared in a hundred different ways. Hibiscus is incredibly safe—it is a traditional food, after all. I readily admit to having dreamed up more recipes with hibiscus than with any other herb. Both the immature leaves and calyces are edible. The flavor of the juicy calyx is often likened to rhubarb or cranberry. It can be eaten raw or cooked. Its sour flavor, coupled with its natural pectin content, readily lends itself to jams, pies, sauces, and chutneys. Infused in honey, hibiscus makes a lovely garnet-colored treat with a delectably fruity flavor. 

Hibiscus Chutney

Ingredients:

  • 85 Grams dried Hibiscus
  • 1 tsp Ginger Powder
  • 1.5 tsp Black Pepper
  • 2 tsp Cinnamon Powder
  • 2 tsp Coriander Powder
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 Apple
  • 1.5 cups Raw Cane Sugar
  • 1.5 cups Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 6 cups Water

Directions:

  • Peel onion and apple and chop coarsely
  • Blend onion, apple, hibiscus and jalapeno in food processor
  • Add to pot with remaining ingredients, including water
  • Simmer for two hours, stirring frequently
  • Let cool and place in a jar

*Will refrigerate for 1 to 2 weeks.

 Hibiscus Iced Tea

 Ingredients:

  • 2 quarts water
  • 3/4 to 1 cup sugar (depending on how sweet you would like it to be)
  • 1 cup dried hibiscus
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick (optional)
  • A few thin slices ginger (optional)
  • Berries (optional)
  • Lime juice (optional)
  • Orange or lime slices for garnish
Directions:
  • Boil water with sugar and spices
  • Put 4 cups of the water and the sugar in a medium saucepan. Add cinnamon, ginger slices, and/or a few berries if you would like. Heat until boiling and the sugar has dissolved
  • Steep with dried hibiscus flowers
  • Remove from heat. Stir in the dried hibiscus flowers. Cover and let sit for 20 minutes.
  • Strain into a pitcher and discard the used hibiscus flowers, ginger, cinnamon, and/or berries
  • (At this point you can store ahead the concentrate, chilled, until ready to make the drink.)
  • Add water
  • Add remaining 4 cups of water (or if you want to chill the drink quickly, ice and water) to the concentrate, and chill.
  • Alternatively you can add ice and chilled soda water for a bubbly version.
  • Add a little lime juice for a more punch-like flavor.
  • Serve over ice with a slice of orange or lime.

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