Making Sorrel with Fresh Hibiscus

Photo by Gayla Trail All Rights Reserved

Sorrel or rum punch (sorrel spiked with rum) is a popular, refreshing drink in the Caribbean, especially during the holiday season.

Knowing this, I was particularly excited to get to the market and get my hands on some fresh sorrel so that I could find out how the drink compares when the flower calyces are fresh rather than dried.

In my minds eye I imagined market tables piled high with bright red blooms. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case. Instead the fresh flowers seem to be sold in bagged portions. It’s only day one as I am writing this (you will read this a few days later) so I’m holding out hope that there is a market stand somewhere on the island where the blooms are beautifully display instead of bagged.

The good news is that the flower calyces I bought were still fresh and crisp inside the bag. I paid about $2 EC (roughly $.80 US) for about 5-6 cups of flowers.

Photo by Gayla Trail All Rights Reserved Photo by Gayla Trail All Rights Reserved

Turns out they make the most incredibly colourful, intense, and tangy drink. It’s so much more vibrantly red than the drink I make with dried flowers at home.

Photo by Gayla Trail All Rights Reserved

And look at the colour of the calyces when they are removed from the liquid!

Photo by Gayla Trail All Rights Reserved

It might be difficult to go back to dried next summer.

Here’s my standard recipe and the one I made today, but with so many tropical fruits and fresh spices available here I’m thinking of experimenting with some flavour combinations.

Do you have a favourite hibiscus/sorrel/rum punch/agua de jamaica recipe? Please share it.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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11 thoughts on “Making Sorrel with Fresh Hibiscus

  1. Gayla, how beautiful. I wish we could taste how the fresh stuff differs from the dried. I usually make a straight-up agua de jamaica (steeped and sweetened) but your ginger addition sounds delicious. I wonder if a little vanilla would be a good counter point?

  2. Blake: I like ginger. I tried orange peel the other day but I either left it too long or the peels weren’t great because it was too bitter. I haven’t seen any vanilla for sale here yet.

    Barry: NO WAY!

  3. Awesome! This is one of my favorite tropical drinks. I definitely love it punched up with some ginger. I’ll be attending a “Caribbean Christmas” dinner this weekend and sorrel is on the menu. I’ll be sure to repost with the recipe! Looking forward to more posts on tropical edibles!

  4. Beautiful! I always feel like the dried hibiscus has a smoky taste, does it taste that way fresh? I was really thrown off by it being referred to as sorrel!

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