There is something about a crimson coloured drink that makes it desirable and irresistible.
I knew I had to make this when I saw it on The Hungry Caterpillar. The Roselle cordial is made from the sepals of the Roselle flower. A species of the hibiscus which is a plant native to the Old World tropics. It is of a deep plum colour, fleshy and crisp in texture, bizarre, kinky, alien-like, seemingly ready to scamper, creep, plunge, squeak, squeal and rule the world through my poor little chocolate addicted body.
H thought they looked weird, and winced when I offered him the cordial. I looked at him as adamantly as I was allowed to and, to my surprise, he relented and took a sip. Then he waved the half full glass of roselle out of my reach. I smacked his arm with my paw. As hard as I was allowed to. We grappled. We drank. We were in ecstasy and in joyful worship. Of Rosella. (Dionysus... move over)
Obviously it passed the test. So now it's bottled. Like a Genie.
It has a lovely flavour that hovers between a grape juice and a Ribena (a blackcurrant cordial). It has a slight tang to it too. It contains lots of vitamins and goodness-ess. Then I gave some to my mother.
Cordials are popular in this hemisphere. They are very sweet concentrated fruit flavoured syrups that need to be diluted with cold water, topped with ice cubes and then served. In short, it contains copious amounts of sugar. It's the poor man's alternative to fruit juices. They are very refreshing.
The seeds found inside the sepals contain natural pectin and if these roselle sepals are to be cooked into a jam the seeds are boiled seperately in some water, drained, the seeds discarded and the gel like liquid that remains behind is added to the boiled sepals-sugar mixture to give it the final gel-like quality of jam. Fascinating.
PS ~ What a lovely and natural way to color cakes and icing.
The recipe ~ an approximation ~
300-350 gm roselle sepals
3 cups of granulated sugar
5-6 cups water
Rinse rosella sepals until clean. Drain. Pluck the sepals and remove all the seeds.
Place water in a pot. Add sepals and bring to a boil and then a medium simmer for about 8- 10 minutes. The water will turn crimson immediately. Add sugar and simmer again until the sugar dissolves. Give it a stir. When sugar has dissolved and the syrup is a gorgeous crimson drain through a sieve and discard the sepals.
Cool and store the syrup in a sterilized bottle.
To serve ~
Pour about an inch and a half of the Rosella syrup into a glass and then fill up to 3/4 way with chilled water. Add ice cubes if you like. Taste for sweetness. Add more of the syrup if not sweet enough or more water if too sweet. Add a squeeze of lime and some slices if desired. Drink and be refreshed.
It's a beautiful and gorgeous drink. How could one resist ?