Sunday, September 27, 2009

Polynesian Hibiscus Water

Yes, we are staying in the South Pacific. Why? Cus I like the region, that's why.


I'm assuming everyone knows that the flower petals and stamens are edible, and tasty too. If you don't know what an hibiscus flower looks like, just think of any movie set in the South Pacific with the island girls (scantily or unscantily clad) having flower blossoms in their hair. Those flowers are hibiscus. Depending on which island you are on you're supposed to wear the flower over a certain ear during certain times doing certain things. Not many white fellers know that, btw.

There are probably as many different ways to make this as there are islands in Oceania, so don't think this is "The" way.

Oh, it's also made in parts of the Carribean and in the Bajio region of Mexico where it's called Agua de Jamaica. Jamaica flowers are known as hibiscus flowers elsewhere.

Some recipes call for dried flowers, others for fresh; some with dark red flowers only, others with pink. There is no hard and fast rule so feel free to experiment.

Oh, a note or two about the flowers. After you snip them make sure you rinse them well, otherwise you'll have tiny black ants floating in your beverage. Ants are one of the main pollinators of hibiscus. Also make sure you carefully remove the green calyx at the base of the flower.

If your hibiscus bush or tree is flowering profusely now, then harvest a boatload of flowers and put them in your food dryer so you can make this and serve it to your friends in the middle of winter. Lunchtime is an ideal time to start making the drink to serve with dinner.

Here's how I make mine...

Hibiscus Water

What you knead:
20 fresh, clean hibiscus flowers (any colour) OR 10 dried ones
1 to 2 cups of raw sugar --this is to taste
2 quarts --8 cups or 1.892 litres-- of water
2 tbsp grated ginger
juice from 2 limes (1/2 to 3/4 cup) --this is added at the end so it's also "to taste"

What you due:
Put the water, sugar and ginger in a pot. Heat it to boiling (a stovetop works well to boil the water) and then cover and bring it down to a simmer for 10 minutes. Turn the heat off and toss in the hibiscus flowers. Give it a little stir so the flowers don't float on the top and then replace the cover.

Let it sit for a while till it comes down to room temp. Add PART of the lime juice and then give it a taste, add more lime juice (or sugar --just stir it in well) for your taste.

Let it stand for an hour.

Strain the liquid through a cheesecloth (give the bundle a good squeeze to get all the flavourful liquid).

Next... Serve it up and drink it!

This makes a nice mixer with rum or vodka if you are so inclined.


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