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From the Tropics: The mysterious romance between Latin Americans and Saril = Jamaica edit

Page_2This year has been an amazing journey and I have already been given so many gifts and am so very, very thankful. The New Year looks busy, as well with trips planned…I will keep you posted on my schedule, promise!

Many, many thanks to everyone for their support. I wish everyone a safe, healthy, and Happy Holiday Season.
Now it is time to share with you a traditional, well loved drink from Latin America…The secret will be yours!

By now you know I am a flower nut, and the hibiscus family is in the top of my list. Can not hide it! So, my goal today is to 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!

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:

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.


if you are using fresh hibiscus petals, make sure they have not been exposed to pesticides.

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.

Saril Tea Pops with Yogurt

PopThe benefits of cooking with tea seem endless. In many cases, when you cook with tea, it retains many of the essential vitamins as well as the antioxidants. Tea is not only a refreshing and delicious beverage, but also very versatile and exotic ingredient that is hitting the kitchens of the adventurous cooks all over the world. How about cooking with tea today? Here we are sharing a simple, yet fantastic recipe to tickle your creativity. It could be prepared with fresh hibiscus petals, or red hibiscus tea.


  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 4 tablespoons red hibiscus tea (or the petals only of 4 red hibiscus, washed)*
  • 1 cup sugar or honey (or to taste)
  • 3 cups original flavor yogurt (regular or low in fat)


Pour boiling water over hibiscus tea, or hibiscus petals. Brew 5-10 minutes, or until it has reached a very intense red color. Remove tea bags, OR put the liquid through a very fine sieve to remove solids. Discard solids / used tea bag.

Combine tea with sugar and stir until dissolved. Cool completely and then add the yogurt and stir until the tea has been distributed evenly. You will get a pink beautiful yogurt. So sexy!

Pour mixture into ice pop molds and freeze until firm. To serve, press firmly on bottom and sides of molds to remove. If using paper cups, freeze mixture until almost firm and then insert Popsicle sticks into centers. Freeze until firm.

Recipe yields 6-8 Popsicles.

Enjoy your hibiscus and Happy Holidays!

Chef M


  • by Chef Melissa
  • December 24, 2008
  • 12:49 am


Picture of Paz Paz said on...
12.25.08 at 12:06 AM |

Wow!  Very creative recipe and something I’ve never had before! 

Very nice updated look!

Merry Christmas!


Picture of melissa melissa said on...
12.25.08 at 06:24 PM |

Thank you Paz! happy Holidays my dear friend!

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