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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Dried Hibiscus Blossoms

Excellent Ingredient of the Week
Dried Hibiscus blossoms can be purchased in fancy stores all over town or you can go to Lowe’s supermarket or Smith's during certain times of the year and buy it in bulk from large bins. They are often used in Mexican drinks and infusions and are often used as a garnish and a delicious vegetable.

They come dried and have a very long shelf life. I use them to make Hibiscus margarita mix or a delicious and beautifully colored ice tea. I also make a hibiscus glazed quail dish which I'll add to the website soon. The color these dried blossoms give off is amazing and they will also color your fingers, so wear gloves! The red-blue color of the hibiscus is a very popular food color that is derived from the dried petals. The dried petals are then boiled in water to derive the red color extract from the hibiscus flower. They are acidic and sour and add a nice tart element to dishes.

Hibiscus tea or herbal hibiscus tea is a popular hot beverage in many countries. The blossoms can be used for making jams as well. Jambo makes a great Hibiscus drink which my friend Elena turned me on to.

It is also used as a religious offering in India. Hibiscus flowers can also be used for making handmade paper. Its fibers are used to make grass skirts and wigs in Polynesia.

They're high in Vitamin C, and have medicinal properties that are helpful in treating dandruff and blood pressure irregularities. Loss of appetite, indigestion, and respiration problems can also be treated by hibiscus extracts. Since it is a hair stimulator, it is used as a popular constituent in many of the popular brands of shampoos and conditioners.

Hibiscus Syrup

The best way to get the flavor is to make reduced syrup which can be used over crepes, fresh fruit, custard, and ice cream and has a very long shelf life in the fridge. To make cordial, a very small quantity of syrup can be added to a glass and filled with water. The syrup can also be added to milk to make a delicious drink.

Ingredients
5 cups sugar
4 cups water
4 cups Hibiscus petals, dried

Procedure
Heat the sugar and water in a large saucepan until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the dried flowers and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer gently until the volume of liquid is reduced by a third. Remove from the heat and strain. Bottle the syrup while still hot into clean bottles and seal.