Recipe: Sorrel Drink (Hibiscus Iced Tea)

img_0591Sorrel is a variety of hibiscus flower that grows in Jamaica. The flower originated in West Africa and was brought to Jamaica during the slave trade. It’s used to make a popular Christmas drink in Jamaica, but is now available nearly year-round.

You can buy sorrel drink at the supermarket, just as you would with, say, orange juice, but real konchri Jameikans (Jamaicans from rural Jamaica) make it from scratch and spice it with ginger. In flavor, it’s similar to hibiscus iced tea that you might buy from Starbucks in the summertime, or those fruity zinger teas, which all use sorrel!

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I’ve recently started buying CSA (community-supported agriculture) boxes from a friend’s farmers group nearby, and a few weeks ago, my box included a bag full of fresh sorrel! Now, while I had watched my host mom make sorrel drink before, this was my first time actually making it myself. I’ve been quite comfortable in the kitchen lately, and this recipe was quick and easy – easy enough even for those of you who never look at the stove (do I even have any friends like this?).

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Sorrel has all kinds of health benefits, too. It’s full of vitamin C and other nutrients, and has a tart flavor. When combined with ginger and sugar, it becomes a sweet, refreshing drink, and when you add a bit of white rum, you’ve got yourself a lovely Jamaican cocktail! This morning, I went deep into an internet search for palettas recipes (Mexican ice pops) and actually found one using sorrel, or flor de jamaica as they’re called in Mexico. Needless to say, I’m now on the hunt for a popsicle mold.

I hope that you try out this recipe as an end-of-summer refresher, perfect for Sunday mornings spent reading in the backyard. You can likely find dried sorrel (or flor de jamaica) at a Mexican grocery store, health food store, or Whole Foods.

Sorrel – Ginger Drink

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound fresh sorrel (or 1/2 cup of dried sorrel)
  • 6 cups water
  • 1-2 inches of ginger, grated
  • orange peel, cloves, pimento, cinnamon (optional)
  • sugar, to taste (I used 1 cup of simple syrup)
  • white rum, to taste (optional)

Method:

In a large pot over high heat, bring the water to a boil. Add sorrel, ginger, and spices (if using), and place a lid on the pot. Return to a boil, then lower the heat and let the mixture simmer for ten minutes.

Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate overnight, or at least 6 hours. Strain the mixture into a pitcher, discard the sorrel pulp (or use the pulp to naturally dye some fabric!). Add sugar (or simple syrup) and stir until dissolved. Add rum, if using. Serve over ice.

img_0610There are lots of local variations that use different combinations of spices. In Mexico, sorrel is combined with lime to give a more fresh, less spicy version. Let me know if you try this one out! Nou yu nuo ow fi mek saril jrink! (Now you know how to make sorrel drink!)

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Yesterday, I started a #100days art project called #100daysofwords. Above is my entry for Day 2. I’ll be posting mostly artful lettering, but I plan on keeping my parameters wide open.

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