As if the Roselle plant were not already the near perfect plant, those of you who planted in the spring when I did, are now finding out it also fruits.
The Roselle plant is pretty enough with it’s bushy greens, but when it starts to flower, it is gorgeous. Large white flowers cover the shrub, followed by stunning red calyxes. These are the fruit of the Roselle plant, also called Cranberry Hibiscus.
The Cranberry Hibiscus fruit is common all over the world. In Germany and France the flowers are imported where they are made into syrups and jams. In Africa and Asia the leafy greens are a popular cooked vegetable and the flowers are made into medicinal teas and syrups to relieve coughs. In Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America, the dried flowers are boiled in water and sweetened with sugar to make a popular homemade drink that is served everywhere, much like iced tea is in our country. At festive occasions it may be flavored with ginger and rum. It is popular all over the world for jams, jellies, and syrups because the flowers have a natural pectin in them, so jam can easily be made with just the flowers, water, and sugar.
Roselle fruit was once a popular commercial export in Florida and was called the Florida Cranberry. It died out in the 1950’s due to freezes and it never really regained its popularity here, but it is easily grown and thrives in the Florida climate.
The fruit is high in vitamin C and antioxidants. It is used around the world as a diuretic, for coughs, to reduce cholesterol, for hypertension, to lower blood pressure, for urinary tract disease, to reduce fever, and as an antimicrobial treatment for E-coli. Studies have even shown extracts of the plant to have possible uses in the treatment of cancer, liver disease, and diabetes. Besides all that, it tastes great.
To get the fresh flowers, you will most likely have to grow them yourself, but the dried ones are readily available in most Latin and Trinidad markets in Florida.
Here are a few uses for the amazing Roselle Fruit.
You will need 2-3 fresh or dried Roselle fruits (pit removed) per cup of hot or cold tea.
Bring water to a boil, then add the roselle fruit. Reduce heat slightly and simmer until the water is bright red (8-10 minutes). The longer you seep it, the brighter the color and stronger the Roselle flavor will be. You can leave the pit in the fruit, but the tea will be much more tart. Remove from heat and sweeten with stevia, sugar, or honey. It can be used as a hot or iced tea.
4 Cups of roselle flowers, peeled, finely chopped
1 Tblsp. Lemon Juice
1/4 Tsp. Lemon Rind
2 Cups of sugar
Water (to just cover flowers)
Add flowers, lemon juice, and lemon rind to a saucepan. Cover with just enough water to reach the top of the mixture. Boil until mixture softens and water level is reduced. Remove from heat, add sugar. Return to heat, stirring so that it does not burn and continue cooking until mixture forms a soft gel when a spoonful of it is dropped on a cold plate. Pour into canning jars and either refrigerate, or process in a water bath for storage.
1 Pound Roselle Fruit (whole)
2 Cups Sugar
2 Cups Water
Soak the fruits for 10 minutes in cold water, then remove the outer petals. In a pot add the petals, the sugar, and the water. Simmer for 45 minutes until reduced by half and starting to thicken. Jar and store in the refrigerator. Can be used as a syrup or to make a healthy beverage. Mix 1 Tablespoon of the syrup with an 8oz. glass of cold water, seltzer water, tonic water, or mineral water. It can also be flavored with ginger or other spices and used as a mix for alcoholic beverages and punches.