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Cooking with Saril = Jamaica = Roselle, Hibiscus sabdariffa edit

Sar_2_yum1 By now you know I am a flower nut, and the hibiscus family is in the top of my list. Can not hide it! Well, as you will find out next, this is not the first time this plant is the queen of the blog: Hibiscus: More than just a beautiful flower, Edible Flowers: the marvelous hibiscus. Both of them are quite interesting, and will help you understand that certain flowers are not only for decoration, they could also be in your salad and satiate you thirst with an invigorating, magically sensual brew. Do I have your attention now? Good! smile

The names: you know something, I think that you have probably enjoyed this flower already. The list that follows contains many vernacular names that refer to the very same subject of our post today.

Roselle or rozelle, sorrel, red sorrel, saril, Jamaica sorrel, Indian sorrel, sour-sour, Guinea sorrel, Queensland jelly plant, lemon bush, rosa de Jamaica, flor de Jamaica, Jamaica, quimbombó chino, Florida cranberry, oseille rouge, oseille de Guinée, sereni, agrio de Guinea, viña, viñuela, vinagreira, curudú azédo, quiabeiro azédo, zuring, carcadé, bisap, and hibiscus flowers -- and there are more!

Sar_1_3 The nutritional and medicinal properties of the "saril" are widely known in many places of the world. It is most commonly consumed as an iced tea for the warm days, or as a hot tea during the cold months. In many countries of Latin America such as Mexico, Panama, Brazil and Guatemala, the infusion made with the calyxes of the exotic flower, dyes the water with an intense red color and is the most popular summer drink.

How to prepare it:

jamaica flower calyces sorrel red sorrel saril panama agua jamaica mexico guatemala drink iced tea panama gourmet panamagourmet cooking food cookingdiva chef melissa de leon douglass recetas receta recipes recipe culinarias artes culinary cooking school escuela de cocina

Sar_3 After washing the buds, make an incision around the tough base of the calyx below the bracts to free and remove it with the seed capsule attached. The calyxes are ready for immediate use, OR you could dehydrate them and store for future use. To assure best quality and preservation of the natural oils and plant properties, it should be dehydrated under 40 degrees C.

To serve fresh, chop the calyxes and add to fruit salads. As a side dish, sautee in butter, season with salt and pepper and garnish with chopped cashew nuts or other nuts available.

To prepare chutneys, marmalade and juice, first clean and chop or finely grind the calyxes prior to cooking. You could also steam them first, add the sugar, cook both together for 10 minutes, and then pass the mixture through a fine sieve. The result of this simple process is delicious added as a natural colorant and flavoring to cake frosting, gelatins, cake batters, and salad dressing among other options.

One of the wonderful properties about cooking with "saril" is that the calyxes posses 3.19% pectin, and in some countries it is recommended as a source of pectin for the fruit-preserving industry.

Medicinal Uses (from Morton, J. 1987.  Roselle.  p.  281–286. In: Fruits of warm climates.  Julia F. Morton, Miami, FL.)

In India, Africa and Mexico, all above-ground parts of the roselle plant are valued in native medicine. Infusions of the leaves or calyxes are regarded as diuretic, cholerectic, febrifugal and hypotensive, decreasing the viscosity of the blood and stimulating intestinal peristalsis. Pharmacognosists in Senegal recommend roselle extract for lowering blood pressure. In 1962, Sharaf confirmed the hypotensive activity of the calyxes and found them antispasmodic, anthelmintic and antibacterial as well...

In Guatemala, roselle "ade" is a favorite remedy for the aftereffects of drunkenness...In East Africa, the calyx infusion, called "Sudan tea," is taken to relieve coughs. Roselle juice, with salt, pepper, asafetida and molasses, is taken as a remedy for biliousness.

Now, a simple yet delicious formula to prepare "Panamanian Chicha de Saril"


  • 2 cups Jamaica calyxes, cleaned
  • 2 litres water
  • fresh ginger root, cleaned, peeled and sliced  to taste (two or three medium size slices would be just perfect) optional. This ingredient is optional, the ginger will add a spicy hint to your drink!
  • Sugar, or raspadura to your liking.


  1. After washing the buds with water, make an incision around the tough base of the calyx below the bracts to free and remove it with the seed capsule attached.
  2. Combine the calyxes and water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Then, remove from stove, add the ginger, let rest covered for 15 minutes and drain off the liquid.
  3. Serve hot or cold, or use the liquid to make gelatin.

Chef M

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  • by Chef Melissa
  • April 01, 2006
  • 4:30 pm


Picture of kalyn kalyn said on...
04.01.06 at 08:26 PM |

What a wonderful post.  I used to buy a type of tea called “Red Zinger” which I’m thinking might have contained this. 

Picture of Sher Sher said on...
04.02.06 at 12:53 AM |

Oh, this was so interesting!  I love hibiscus flowers, but never thought that they could be edible.  I love cooking with other flowers—so why not these?

Picture of Don Ray Don Ray said on...
04.02.06 at 10:45 AM |

Ok, I am a fan of stopping to smell the roses, but eating a hibiscus? I hope it won’t make me a blooming idiot.

Picture of melissa_cookingdiva melissa_cookingdiva said on...
04.02.06 at 12:36 PM |

Thank you Kalyn and Sher for the visit!

Don, just make sure they are the red ones!!! Ah, if I read about all the read hibiscus vanishing from the gardens in David—-I will know you did it smile

Picture of Fran Fran said on...
04.02.06 at 01:56 PM |

Thank you for the ideas.  Just purchased some sweetened dried hibiscus flowers and already had some dried unsweetened ones.  Originally purchased to make a drink.  Can’t wait to use them now.

Picture of Gooseberry Gooseberry said on...
04.03.06 at 02:35 AM |

Hi, Melissa

Hibiscuses make me think of visiting my grandmother in the Eastern Cape as a child. She had pots and pots of them on her balcony! I have had hibiscus tea before, but it came from Egypt, rather than the Americas.

Can you describe what they taste like when sauted, as you mentioned? Do they keep their colour? The idea intrigues me.


Picture of mae mae said on...
04.03.06 at 06:38 AM |

Hi Melissa,

What a wonderful indepth post.  So interesting… thanks for sharing.

Picture of melissa_cookingdiva melissa_cookingdiva said on...
04.03.06 at 07:49 AM |

Gooseberry, I have only sauteed the hibiscus variety shown in the second photo. The acidity level of the bud is high, but once chopped and cooked it resembles a cranberry relish smile Very delicious!

Picture of kelly kelly said on...
04.03.06 at 01:51 PM |

I am craving this stuff.  I want some when I come in July.  There is also a drink that I like to get at a restaurant in El Valle.  It is some kind of chicha de zarzamora, I think.  YUM….

Picture of melissa_cookingdiva melissa_cookingdiva said on...
04.03.06 at 02:24 PM |

Oh Kelly!!! You are talking about CHICHA DE MAIZ,  a fermented type of corn beverage———YUM!!! We will get some smile

Picture of Michelle Michelle said on...
04.03.06 at 05:38 PM |

What a great idea!  I had no idea there were so many uses for hibiscus, although I think I’ve heard somewhere that they are indeed edible.  I would especially love to try some jam or jelly with them!  As always, thanks for all the great information!

Picture of sailaja sailaja said on...
04.04.06 at 10:42 AM |

What a beautiful informative post!
I grow lots of hibiscus in my own garden but have never made anything edible with them ..
Your post is inspiring me to try them and I guess I will blog my adventures with hibiscus..smile

Picture of Anarella Anarella said on...
04.04.06 at 06:05 PM |

Felicitaciones por lo de Mejor Blog! Acabo de enterarme y de verdad te felicito. Y es que relamente tu blog es muy bueno!

Picture of melissa_cookingdiva melissa_cookingdiva said on...
04.04.06 at 07:00 PM |

Gracias Anarella! Por cierto, te agradezco que nos hayas visitado pues se que cambiantes de blog y la dirección ya no es la misma. Traté de ubicar el nuevo,...pero no tuve suerte….Ya te voy a gragar al directorio de blogs de cocina en Español que llevo. Abrazos,

Picture of Umarhusein Umarhusein said on...
06.19.06 at 12:14 AM |

Dear Saril

Umarhusein, 47 y’old, man, I’m one of more roselle farmers,  from Palembang South Sumatra Indonesia.

With gladly heart, your information that be applied in my work.

Would you please to send your other activities to me and my client in the filed.

Yours, Umar Husein

Picture of Warren Ezekiel .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) said on...
10.12.06 at 06:18 PM |

Could any one tell me what size flower pots are best suited for growing roselle.

Picture of Cristina Cristina said on...
01.09.07 at 05:40 PM |

ok melisa.. u dont remember me, pero te divertiste un par te veces in my bolg..sexo something….. may i say I hate you, couse i have no idea how to cook anything so women like you are my heroes, ironically ive been involved in restauranst as long as i can remember, and its kindda hard to explain what a SARIL is, i HONESTLY had no idea it was hibiscus, (q pena por q soy panameña como un arroz con pollo) but oh well some of us are just not made for the cooking just for the eating, im sorry but im gonna have to use youre info with my waites, thanks melisa !

Picture of melissa_cookingdiva melissa_cookingdiva said on...
01.09.07 at 05:47 PM |

Hola Cristina! qué tal el nuevo año? Si, el saril es primo-hermano del papo!!! LOL

Por cierto, es ReneCafe un lugar nuevo en el Caso Viejo? trabajas alli?

Un abrazo,

Picture of Lionel C. Bethancourt .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) said on...
04.23.07 at 09:59 AM |

Obrigado pelas informações sobre o Saril. Aqui, en São Paulo encontramos solamente como “Umé”, nombre en japonés dado a la flor.
De hecho muy revigorante “la chicha”. Conseguiste más dos lectores asíduos a tu blog; mi mamá y yo.

Picture of melissa melissa said on...
04.23.07 at 10:02 AM |

Gracias Lionel por la informacion! Un abrazo desde Panama smile

Picture of Helga .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) said on...
06.01.07 at 01:41 PM |

Looking for information and found it at this great site…

Picture of sveta .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) said on...
06.03.07 at 09:48 PM |

I enjoy your site very much! THANK YOU!

Picture of cynthia .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) said on...
06.18.07 at 10:15 AM |

Can you please tell me of any uses that jamica has for the body?  Such as weight loss, or for vision or healthy looking skin ect..?  I really don’t know anything about the flower other than it tastes good. I’m starting to make it at home and drink it regularly and hope it’s good for me, not only tastes good.  Thanks

Picture of melissa melissa said on...
06.18.07 at 10:55 AM |

Hi Cynthia!
During my last visit to Belize rain forest I found an article about hibiscus in the local -Visitors Guide- from June 30, 2005, page 12. An excerpt of the article follows:

“Traditional uses: only the red flowered hibiscus is considered of medicinal value. For post partum hemorrhages, the staunching of excessive menstrual flow, and to prevent miscarriage, boil nine leaves with one open and one closed flower in three cups of water for ten minutes; drink warm. A cool bath of leaves and flowers is useful to treat various skin conditions. For headaches and fevers mash leaves and apply to the head. The flowers are edible and rich in iron, they can be eaten to treat painful menstruation.”

Picture of Hillary .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) said on...
07.15.07 at 08:11 PM |

Thanks so very much for taking your time to create this very useful and informative site. I have learned a lot from your site. Thanks!!.

Picture of mike mike said on...
08.25.07 at 01:55 PM |

how about cooking the leaves?
I’ve read various articles on this and would love to know what anyone’s thoughts is on this if they’ve tried cooking the leaves

Picture of Fred .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) said on...
12.23.07 at 09:04 AM |

May be too late for that, Don.

Picture of dan .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) said on...
06.14.08 at 01:04 PM |

wow! Thank you this takes me back to when I was a kid and my mama’ would make me some rosa de jamaica to have after a day at little league. I was cold and sweet and very tropical in falvor. so much like iced tea but not.

Picture of melissa melissa said on...
06.14.08 at 01:07 PM |

Un agua de Jamaica! Si! Deliciosa! mAkes me want to have some right now…

Picture of Jack Jack said on...
01.13.09 at 07:28 AM |

Nice article.It’s really interesting…….

Picture of Leather Sofa Leather Sofa said on...
06.11.09 at 09:51 PM |

Thanks so very much for taking your time to create this very useful and informative site.I had no idea there were so many uses for hibiscus, although I think I’ve heard somewhere that they are indeed edible.  I would especially love to try some jam or jelly with them!  As always, thanks for all the great information!

Leather Sofa

Picture of carlos .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) said on...
01.03.10 at 04:09 AM |

Saril or habiscus is a delicious drink I am from panama and make really strong and really   miss that drink is god for your heart and has 16 amino acids, and vitamin C…..protects your heart!

Picture of Blue Jay .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) said on...
01.28.10 at 02:27 PM |

I have just been introduced to this hibiscus plant by some Mexican friend who prepared agua de Jamaica with it.  I am very interested in growing some myself to use for cooking as it’s a little pricey near me.  Does anyone know if this plant grows in Central Florida?  And if so, are there are any tips from experienced growers that would be helpful to know for attempting to grow it for the first time?

Picture of Nany Gomez .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) said on...
05.23.10 at 08:24 PM |

Hibiscus is awesome for dry skin, I didn’t realize you could eat it too

Picture of jhon .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) said on...
09.03.10 at 04:43 PM |

What a great post i am love the way express your self and i thank you for the hibiscus recipe! Yum!

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