10 Things to know about Jamaican Sorrel drink
Sorrel drink in an established part of Christmas celebrations in Jamaica, although in recent years it is commercially available all year round. Here are a few things about Sorrel drink that you might not know.
1. Sorrel drink comes from Hibiscus sabdariffa (var. Sabdariffa) plant, a member of the hibiscus family that originates in northern Ghana. The plant was likely to have been introduced to Jamaica when West Africans were brought to the Caribbean as slaves.
2. There is also a white sorrel made from Hibiscus sabdariffa (var. Altissima Wester) plant. It is mainly cultivated in India and Nigeria, although it can be found in the Caribbean.
3. The Rosella plant from which Sorrel drink is made is known by several other names. It is called Roselle in English and Spanish, Bissap Rouge among Senegalese, Karkadeh among Egyptians, Rozelle in French, Karkadi in German, and Carcade in Italian.
4. In the Caribbean and Mexico Sorrel drink is called ‘Flor de Jamaica’, while in Australia it is Rosella and in Nigeria, Zobo drink.
5. Other Caribbean islands share the Christmas tradition of Sorrel drink; they include Montserrat, Barbados, St. Lucia, Guyana, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Antigua, Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago, and Dominica. Naturally, each island has its unique recipe for preparing the drink.
6. The fleshy calyx below the flower that contains the seed, is used to make Sorrel drink. Usually in Jamaica the calyces are sun dried before steeped in boiling water. Traditionally the calyx is harvested in late November to early December to make the drink.
7. The fruit-like calyx is often used in a variety of foods. Its tart yet sweet taste makes it an excellent substitute for cranberries. Bakers use it in pies and crisps instead of rhubarb. The calyces can also be used to add colour and flavour to herb teas. With some creativity the calyx herbal tea could make Sorrel drink.
8. The taste of Sorrel drink is often likened to Cranberry Juice and Ribena drink because of its tangy taste and dark red colour. Sorrel drink is rich in vitamins C (ascorbic acid). A (retinol), B3 (niacin), B2 (riboflavin), flavonoids, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, and iron.
9. Sorrel drink and the Rosella plant are known to have many health benefits, such as:
improves poor eyesight
prevents age-related eye degeneration
boosts production of red blood cells and helps improve circulation
decreases bad cholesterol levels and prevents clogged arteries
boosts the immune system
10. There are a variety of recipes for making Jamaican Sorrel drink, which generally includes ginger steeped in boiling water along with the calyces, cinnamon, cloves, a good helping of sugar, and white rum.
Here are a few Sorrel drink recipes…Merry Christmas!
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