Roselle hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa) is great fresh as a snack. You can peel off the red outer pieces away from the seedpod and eat them for a tart and tangy, refreshing snack! Avoid the seedpod itself.
It’s also quite lovely as a tea. If you know Red Zinger tea, roselle is the hibiscus component of that tea. For brewing tea from fresh roselle pods: In a medium saucepan, boil 15 to 20 pods for 5-8 minutes to begin extracting flavor. Steep for an additional 15 minutes off the boil (increase quantities and/or times for more flavor). Remove the roselle and sweeten to taste (although it’s also great unsweetened). Let cool. Add to a pitcher filled the rest of the way with cold water, store in the refrigerator for an interesting tangy, full of flavor iced tea. Also fantastic as a hot beverage!
Here are some other recipes for syrup, jam and variations on tea recipes.
We’ve also found sorbets to be wonderful with roselle. This particular recipe calls for dried roselle which we also sell at Waterdog Farms, but you may want to experiment with fresh when it’s in season!
We love to make a quick and easy stove top sauce/jam. Here’s how we do it:
Roselle Hibiscus and Apple “Shortcake”
2 medium apples (diced)
3-4 cups seeded fresh hibiscus pods
1 1/4 cups water
~5 tbsp. sugar
In a medium pan, bring the apples, hibiscus, water and sugar to a boil; then simmer for about 20 minutes for a thick syrup to thin jam consistency. Allow to simmer longer for a thicker jam, or less for a thinner sauce. Spread over a scone and add ice cream for a take on a shortcake dessert. Serves 3-4.
Note: For making tea from fresh roselle, you can leave the seedpod in and the flavor will not be affected. However, for cooking, it is important to remove the seedpod. We have found the easiest way to do this is by using scissors to clip off the bottom end and then push out the seedpod. Once you have done a few, the process becomes really easy and goes quickly.