Most of the modern foods and beverages we eat today have deep roots in historic recipes and traditional culinary practices. Today's bright crimson beverages laden with artificial colors, sweeteners and flavorings can be traced back to sorrel or Jamaica drinks. These beverages were made with the flower buds of what is commonly known as Hibiscus or Roselle. First produced in West Africa, the traditional drink-made from an infusion of the petals-contains beneficial dose of Vitamin C. It's culinary and medicinal uses are many. The flavor combines wonderfully with warm, thermogenic spices like cinnamon, clove and nutmeg. Add ginger, chili and turmeric to boost the healing properties. This recipe is more a set of guidelines. Experiment to your taste and listen to your body as you prepare this healing beverage just in time for cold and flu season. Drink up!
2 c. sorrel/jamaica/hibiscus flowers
1/2 c. -1 c. sugar, honey or other sweetener
1 tsp. of flavorings: Choose one or more to your taste.
ginger (fresh grated is best, but dried works too)
vanilla bean or extract
orange or rose blossom water
orange or lemon juice
1. Rinse the flowers in cold water and leave in strainer or colander
2. Add 2 liters of water and bring to a boil.
3. Add the flowers and remove from heat. Allow to steep for 10-20 minutes.
4. Stir in the sugar and add flavorings.
5. Strain or skim flowers and flavorings.
6. Allow to cool and serve.
Using ingredients fully yields the best results. I learned to cook this way out of economic necessity and found it to be the most rewarding and nourishing way to approach food. It happenst to be the best for the planet too. These recipes are a tribute to my Italian grandfather who inspired the zero-waste philosophy by teaching me how to turn leftover polenta into lasagna.