It's funny how a food we'd never even heard of a few years ago has become such a staple of our current diet. A friend gave us some roselle seeds a few years ago. Since then, it's become a big crop for us, not only in the gardens but also as 'landscaping' bushes around the house.
A member of the hibiscus family, this okra relative grows to a huge beautiful bush, about 4 feet in diameter. Along the dark red stems grow short lived hibiscus like flowers. When the petals fall off, a thick calyx is left behind. These flower parts are then harvested for a number of uses.
Most commonly, they are used for a red 'Koolaid' colored tea. Roselle is actually one of the main ingredients of Red Zinger tea. They can be used fresh or dried for tea. If using fresh for tea, simply drop the whole pods in boiling water for 5-8 minutes, about 4 per cup depending on preferred strength. To dry the roselle for later use, it is best to remove the green seed pod in the middle. Our method is to slice horizontally across the bottom then pop out the green balls.
|With piles of roselle to process we've come up with our quickest method. The first person uses a chef's knife to chop off the base end. The other person punches the green balls out with the round end of a wooden spoon.|
While we enjoy the tea, roselle also makes a great mock cranberry sauce. Again, remove the green seed pods. Then boil the chopped red pieces with a little water, honey and maybe ginger. It's a tasty sauce with chicken or pork. It makes a great topping on cheesecake. Probably the most common way we use it though is as a colorful fruity tasting add-in to yogurt. The sauce preserves great frozen in small jars.