Hibiscus Flowers (actually the dried sepals of the hibiscus plant) are the trumpet-shaped, deep burgundy fruits that grow after the flowers bloom.
Hibiscus Flowers should be rinsed quickly with cold water prior to use.
Storage & handling
Store in a dry, cool place.
Hibiscus Flower (Hibiscus sabdariffa) is actually a misnomer for this popular, tart-flavored ingredient. It is, in fact, not the flower of the hibiscus plant, but the dried sepal (also called a "calyx") that hold the flower on the stem. After the flower blooms, the calyx continues to grow into a large, fleshy pod that surrounds the seeds. These deep burgundy, trumpet-shaped pods are harvested and widely used for lending a tangy, citrusy flavor to hot and cold beverages and soups, as well as for their intense, deep fuschia coloring, which seeps out when soaked in hot liquid.
"Hibiscus" refers to a family of shrub-like annual plants that produce colorful, trumpet-shaped blooms. The specific species of Hibiscus cultivated for culinary purposes is Hibiscus sabdariffa, also called "roselle." The plant thrives in tropical and subtropical regions around the world, from Mexico and Central America to Africa, the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific Islands. Various cultures grow it for culinary and medicinal purposes, harvesting its calyces as well as its leaves.
In some cultures, Hibiscus Flowers are thought to have medicinal uses, ranging from reversing hypertension and lowering blood cholesterol levels to relieving colds and acting as a diuretic and mild laxative. However, the majority of these claims have not been confirmed. However, Hibiscus Flowers' high levels of vitamin C and electrolytes are undisputed.
Hibiscus Flowers are most often boiled with water and sweetened to make a tangy herbal beverage with a taste similar to cranberry juice. This beverage is most commonly known by its Spanish name, "agua de jamaica," but is brewed all over the world in hot and cold forms. It can also be used to make jam and jelly, as well as various soups and sauces. We source our Hibiscus Flowers from Egypt, where they have grown since ancient times, when hibiscus tea was the beverage of choice of the pharaohs.
Hibiscus tea is a very popular use of the dried hibiscus flower. Throughout both North and Latin America, this sweetened, chilled version called Jamaica is characterized by its ruby pigment, fruity aroma and intriguing spice.