Festive Christmas Drink in Jamaica
Botanical name: Hibiscus sabdariffa
Common names: Rosella, Indian Sorrel, Jamaica Sorrel, Jamaican Sorrel, Red Sorrel,Malventee, Vinagreira, Acedera de Guinea, Cabitutu, Rosa de Jamaica, SerenÃ, Vinuela
Rosella or ‘ Sorrel’, as it is commonly known in the West Indies, is an annual plant, that is a plant that germinates from seed, flowers and fruits in one year, then dies off.It grows to a height of about two metres in good conditions, but is very hardy.
The flowers are a creamy yellow with a scarlet throat and look like small hibiscus flowers. The shiney, thick red sepals and calyx are what is used for culinary purposes.
Plant Rosella direct from seed at the beginning of the warmer weather.The seeds are about 3mm x 3mm and shaped like a small heart.When you crush the prickly fruit capsules they fall out.
Buy Sorrel Seed USA Here
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Rosella is a little known plant that originated in tropical West Africa.That would explain it’s use as a Festive Christmas drink in the West Indies.The red sepals and calyx from the harvest are dried and then stored for making cordials and punches as well as jams and teas.Pour hot water over about a kilo of dried Rosella with about one fresh grated ginger root added.Leave this to steep overnight.Strain off the exquisite pink liquid the next day and add sugar syrup (sugar and water heated) to taste, lime juice and crushed ice. White Rum can also be added for a famous medicinal rum punch.
Nurture about five good Rosella plants to harvest about two kilograms of dried Rosella.Invite all of you friends around for a harvest picnic and cut all the stems off, strip off the fruits and get everyone to sit around in a circle and take the calyx and sepals off and throw them into a basket.Dry them out on a piece of old roofing iron and when dried store in the cupboard for Christmas or a special occasion.It can also be used for jam or tea.Make sure it is a sunny dry day preferably on a waning moon to prevent them getting mouldy in storage.
These plants are easy to grow, very hardy and high in vitamins. Take away bottled drinks are one of the most expensive ways to enjoy a cold drink. Why not make your own medicinal drinks with healthy home-grown ingredients.