Week 52: Hibiscus Flowers

It’s week 52! While the 52 Kitchen Adventures are officially over with this post, as I mentioned here I will continue blogging. And I have at least 1 more unusual ingredient coming up: Buddha’s hands.

Thank you all for taking this journey with me. It’s been fun but I have to admit I’m glad to be done. And proud that I did it! 52 weeks without a break. Whew. Time for a celebration. Happy New Year!

For Christmas, my brother and sister-in-law gave everyone cute baskets full of different fun and gourmet foods (a great idea that I may shamelessly copy in the future!). One goody in my basket was hibiscus flower in syrup, which they found at Safeway of all places.

The jar recommends placing them at the bottom of a glass and pouring sparkling wine or champagne over them, which opens up the flower and makes the drink a delightful pink color. There were also other recipes attached, including a cheesecake and several cocktails made with hibiscus flowers, including a daiquiri, mojito and martini. The first thing I tried is the sparkling wine method. Above you’ll see the flower at the bottom of the glass.

Once you drink the beverage, you can eat the flower, which is edible (obviously). It’s sweet, a little crunchy, and has a similar flavor to rhubarb and raspberry. They really have a great flavor, look exotic and fun – I definitely recommend picking up a jar if you ever see these around. Isn’t this a great idea to spruce up New Year’s Eve champagne toasts?

Hibiscus is actually a genus of flower, containing over 200 species native to warm and tropical regions all over the world. The jar I have is from Australia. In different countries, different species of the flower are used for many purposes, from tea and jam to paper making and a natural food coloring. Hibiscus flowers are considered to have medicinal properties in traditional Indian medicine, to cure ailments including a cough and to prevent hair loss and greying. A USDA study showed that drinking hibiscus tea lowers blood pressure in pre-hypertensive and mildly hypertensive people.

On a totally different note, in Tahiti, wearing a single hibiscus flower behind your ear indicates you’re available for marriage. Out of all these varied uses, my favorite use of hibiscus flowers comes from the Phillipines: children crush them until sticky juices come out, then use hollow papaya stalks as straws to blow bubbles from the juices. I might have to try that next!

I still have 10 more flowers. Any recipe requests or recommendations?

16 Comments on Week 52: Hibiscus Flowers

  1. Jessica
    December 26, 2010 at 10:43 am (4 years ago)

    Hey Stephanie,

    In Mexico, the hibiscus flower is called “jamaica” and is used in all kinds of dishes, especially tea. Once, I had a delicious jamaica sorbet…I’ve also seen it used in salads.

    Looking forward to seeing what you use the flowers for!

    -Jessica

    Reply
    • Stephanie
      December 26, 2010 at 10:51 am (4 years ago)

      Thanks for the info and ideas Jessica! Sorbet would be wonderful and they would add a nice texture to salads. so many possibilities!

  2. Andrea
    December 26, 2010 at 7:49 pm (4 years ago)

    That is SO pretty! I’ve had dried hibiscus and hibiscus tes, but nothing else.
    Have you made scones yet for any of your ‘adventures’? I think I hibiscus scone would be so good. Or make sorbet AND scones, using the syrup to flavor the scones. Mmmm.

    Reply
  3. Big Apple Florist
    December 27, 2010 at 12:07 pm (4 years ago)

    Whoah!!
    I love Hibiscus and I know they are edible, but thank you so much for giving us such a fantastic usage! They’re not just for holiday décor anymore.

    Reply
  4. sweetlife
    December 28, 2010 at 7:35 am (4 years ago)

    Oh I love this…I must find this..I adore hibiscus (we call them jamaica) I always have it in my pantry for aguas, cocktails or tea…what a beauitful presentation…thanks for sharing..a perfect holiday toast..

    sweetlife

    Reply
  5. Ang
    December 28, 2010 at 9:25 pm (4 years ago)

    First off. I’m so glad I can find this at my local store and not a country halfway across the world. Second. I will be doing this on Friday for the festivities. Love it! And so simple. Third. Thanks for the little education on it:)

    Reply
  6. sensiblecooking
    December 29, 2010 at 11:48 am (4 years ago)

    That is the prettiest drink I have ever seen. I love hibiscus flower but never thought they were edible. We don’t have safeway here but if I see them in my local groceries I will surely try it out.

    Reply
  7. Tiffany
    December 29, 2010 at 3:30 pm (4 years ago)

    I got these flowers for Christmas two years ago! Williams and Sonoma also sells them! Very nice pictures!

    Reply
  8. Stephanie
    December 29, 2010 at 3:50 pm (4 years ago)

    Thanks for sharing Tiffany! I looked at the Wild Hibiscus website and they’re also available at Whole Foods, Kroger, BevMo and Citarella.

    Reply
  9. Amy
    December 29, 2010 at 7:00 pm (4 years ago)

    I have been looking for ways to use hibiscus! Your drink is beautiful, thanks for sharing :)!

    Reply
  10. Tes
    December 30, 2010 at 5:11 am (4 years ago)

    This is so eye-opeing before. I have never known we can eat hibiscus flower!

    Reply
  11. Danica
    December 30, 2010 at 10:21 am (4 years ago)

    I am pretty sure I’ve seen them at Trader Joe’s too! They definitely have dried (candied?) ones in the nuts-and-dried-fruit aisle. I don’t know for sure if they have them in syrup too. This looks so good Steph!

    Reply
  12. Mira
    January 1, 2011 at 9:59 pm (4 years ago)

    My daughter brought back the exact same jar from Australia too. Come to think of it, it reminds me of sorrel that you can find fresh in the stores at this time of the year. I might look into it and maybe poach in syrup myself to see if it turns out the same as the stuff in the jar.

    Reply
  13. Antoinette
    December 7, 2012 at 12:02 pm (2 years ago)

    We call it “Sorrel” in Trinidad and Tobago and it’s a favored beverage at Christmas time but also drank throughout the year.
    Antoinette recently posted All Over (2012)

    Reply
  14. Antoinette
    December 7, 2012 at 12:03 pm (2 years ago)

    Oops forgot to mention how we make the beverage: boil the sorrel with spices, cool, then sweeten and serve chilled.
    Antoinette recently posted All Over (2012)

    Reply

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