Now that we are in the midst of summer, we’re starting to see some great production out of the plants in the hibiscus family in our garden. Of course we have okra, perhaps the most famous of the edible hibiscus – or is the plural hibiscii?… In addition to planting lots of okra this year we also experimented with another edible hibiscus – roselle. Sometimes referred to as flor de Jamaica, the calyxces (funny little structures that surround the seed pod) are the edible parts. You can make wonderful hibiscus jams out of these flower parts. As an added bonus, they contain pectin so you don’t even have to add other ingredients to make the jam gel.
Although we haven’t canned any hibiscus jelly yet, we have put this plant to good use already in making a refreshing summer iced tea. Just boil the fresh seed pods (30 or so seed pods will get you a very large batch to fill a large pitcher) with calyxces for about 5 minutes till the water turns a dark pink. Then let it sit for an additional 3 minutes, strain out the hibiscus, and add any sweetener (we find sugar to be the best for this drink). Pour into your pitcher and fill the rest of the way up with water.
The resulting concoction is best described as floral and tangy. It’s like no other flavor I can think of, but its great as a summer drink. We’re hoping to have it tonight with all of the other goodies we’re cooking from the farm – fresh roasted dent corn, pumpkin soup, and a fresh salad with summer crisp lettuce…. of course we need to finish harvesting for the farmer’s market tomorrow so maybe we’ll just have it with some frozen fish sticks.
Look for it at market starting next week.