The roselle flower looks a lot like that of okra; they're in the same plant family, Malvaceae. One of the useful parts of the plant is the flower bud:
MG Millicent Lawrence told me how roselle or "sorrel" is used in Jamaica for a winter drink (alcoholic). Here's her recipe:
Ingredients (makes about 2-3 pints of liquid)
1 cup dried sorrel buds
2 Tbs grated ginger (no need to peel)
5 cups boiling water
10-20 allspice (pimento) berries. If the allspice berries are large (pea size) use the lower amount
rum and sugar to taste
Place the sorrel, ginger, and allspice in a large container and pour in the boiling water. Cover and let steep overnight. Strain through cheesecloth or a fine meshed sieve to remove all solids. Add a little rum to preserve and sugar to sweeten, and wine if desired. Pour into a glass bottle and refrigerate. The end product should be a rich ruby-colored spicy beverage.
You could also use fresh buds for this, but you'd need much more than a cup, and you'd need to infuse them, not just pour boiling water on. Dried sorrel or flor de Jamaica can be found at Hispanic groceries.
|credit Barbara Dunn|
You can see our fat patch of roselle hibiscus next to the blue-green coiled hose. There are perhaps seven plants in there - I can't remember now - and the patch is about seven feet long.
I took some home that night and cooked them, but I won't post the recipe because I'm still working on it. The leaves have a strong sour taste that needs to be complemented with other tastes, and the Indian spices I used weren't strong enough to do the trick. I ought to have properly caramelized the onions, too.
here, from a delightful food blog).
So give roselle a try in your vegetable or flower patch next year! The seeds are available from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and other sources (more next year, I expect, since this is a hot plant in the food gardening world right now).