Rozelle hibiscus

ClareBroommaker's picture

I've mentioned this roselle hibiscus a few times. This was yesterday's harvest. Most of it we dehydrated for "tea". We are candying a little bit, investigating whether we can do that well enough for Christmas presents in some years.

We have probably an equal amount still in the garden, but it rained today. I want it to be dry when I pick it.

When working with it to pull the fleshy calyxes from the seed pod inside, I keep feeling like I was handling cotton bolls. It is not as stiff and pokey as cotton would be, but it does have some of the same short fibreglass-like hairs as cotton burs have. They are in the same botanical family, Malvaceae.

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kma's picture

This is my favorite tea - I buy it by the pound! Definitely on my gardening wish list.

ClareBroommaker's picture

Turns out my dried rozelle does not reconstitute easily for tea. I had imagined I'd just brew it in hot water, but, as harvested, it does not release enough flavor and color except over a pretty long time. Perhaps it needs to be boiled, but, as always I'm hoping to minimize energy use.

What I've done to make rozelle work for tea is to grind it up to a barely coarse powder. It releases its good stuff much more easily and it takes much less to make tea. I have not tried adding it to black tea as some people do. (My only black tea already has cardamom).

The powdered rozelle can be used like ground sumac for seasoning. So it goes good on starchy foods such as potato, rice, and even on a corn tortilla. To get it closer to tasting like sumac you could add a tiny bit of salt.

I've been making a lemon-rozelle-gin drink every night. It comes out a pretty pink and I congratulate myself for getting a pinch of carotenoids, anthocyanins and betacyanins. Mmm, healthy! (right?)

I did not like directions I found for making candied rozelle because I wanted the dry-ish candy I'm familiar with, not something dripping with syrup. So I just tried immersing them in granulated sugar. This worked pretty well, giving me a bright pink candied "fruit" that is chewy and bright of flavor as well. A lot of juice went into the sugar, so I have pink sugar that I can use in spring for some jams. It took a lot of sugar to make them since I did not want them touching as they dried.

I did not make any jam with it; did not have enough after drying and candying.

I should look more into how other cultures use rozelle.