Lifting your spirits with Jamaican Roselle
Jamaican Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa) is an easy and beautiful plant that grows well here in south Florida, and doesn’t require much fertilization or good soil. This colorful plant abounds with medical benefits. Once harvested, the crispy succulent flower, calyx, can be dried, boiled or eaten raw, juiced or jellied. It has magical benefits. It cools the body down helping you acclimate to the heat, is also used to reduce fevers for children and provide nourishment for illness. You can make into a fun bright colored hot pink punch for kids using stevia or honey. It is high in vitamin C, calcium and powerful antioxidants. Commonly grown in Mexico and Central America, it is also found in many warm climates globally. The roselle contains anthocyanin. This powerful antioxidant scavenges inflammatory cells in the body, helping to repair arteries for good heart function. It also helps depression, as inflammation is connected to depression. It lowers cholesterol and blood glucose, helps to lower blood pressure and also has antibacterial properties protecting kidneys and the liver.
To prepare and bring out medicinal benefits: Use 1-2 glasses of roselles daily. Remove the calyx from the hard stem, pulling off the bright red ariel flowers around the seed, boil 1 quart of water and add a heaping handful of the red calyx. Gently simmer for 10 mintues until richly red. Strain and add stevia or honey to taste. It’s good hot or cold. You can also boil it down to make a jelly or substitute for cranberry sauce for the holidays by cooking it down in 2:1 ratio, 2 parts Roselles to 1 part water, add honey or stevia to taste.
Roselles have been widely used around the planet. In India they cook the leaves of this plant in many dahl recipes. It is used as cordage and substituted in burlap because of its woody stem. It is very hard to trim with ordinary pruners. Roselles is used in Trinidad for a holiday drink with ginger, cloves, cinnamon and rum. In Nigeria they mix the fresh fruit with pineapple or watermelon. In Italy the dried flowers are sold in every market. In Ghana, the Ivory Coast and Senegal it’s made into candy with menthol and mint leaves. We have seen this packaged in Celestial Seasons Red Zinger tea. In Jamaica it is called sorrel. They eat the super sour fruit right off the plant, and one can find it as a substitute for fresh lemonade as well. Don’t over consume Roselles as it is a natural laxative.
For the brainy science mind. The Hibiscus leaves are a good source of polyphenolic compounds. The major identified compounds include neochlorogenic acid, chlorogenic acid, cryptochlorogenic acid, caffeoylshikimic acid and flavonoid compounds such as quercetin, kaempferol and their derivatives. The flowers are rich in anthocyanins, as well as protocatechuic acid. The dried calyces contain the flavonoids gossypetin, hibiscetine and sabdaretine. The major pigment, formerly reported as hibiscin, has been identified as daphniphylline. Small amounts of myrtillin (delphinidin 3-monoglucoside), chrysanthenin (cyanidin 3-monoglucoside), and delphinidin are present. Roselle seeds are a good source of lipid-soluble antioxidants, particularly gamma-tocopherol.
Jamaican Roselles take a long time for the fruit to mature so if you are a snow bird I recommend planting it in March or April, mulch it heavily before you go away and when you return in the fall you will have a lovely project of harvesting this wonderful brightly colored fruit. Share with friends at tea parties or make into wonderful impressive alternatives for Thanksgiving. Freeze into ice cubes and add to your cocktail for extra medicinal qualities and gorgeous colors. For the gardener it is a large bushy plant growing to about 6-8 feet, then topples over because of the heavy fruiting flowers it produces. So give it plenty of room to spread open during fruiting time. With its red and green colors it certainly gets you in the mood for the holidays and makes a great additional homemade gift for those northern family members as stocking stuffers. You can find these plants or seeds from local sources in the spring, check the farmers markets and garden networks right here in Englewood.
Our little farm will be introducing cooking & gluten free baking classes, garden classes and much more. We will also have plenty of seeds and cuttings to share. Stay posted on Ebb & Flow Farm on Facebook to see the latest on what is growing and what is being planted & harvested weekly. Find us at the Englewood farmers market every Thursday selling our handmade jewelry at Ebb & Flow Creations that supports our farm education center. We will be offering classes beginning in February. Stay posted for more information.