Christmas season in Jamaica is the most festive time of the year and the drink of choice during the season is the delectable and refreshing Sorrel Drink.
This drink is made from the sorrel sepals (or petals) of the plant. Sorrel is not indigenous to Jamaica. Officially called the Roselle plant (Hibiscus sabdariffa), it is a species of hibiscus native to the Old World tropics. The plant’s flowers grow to a bright red as the fruit matures. Similar in taste to hibiscus tea, it can be found all around the world. Sorrel and hibiscus flower extracts are used in many folk remedies worldwide, most commonly for lowering blood pressure, liver disorders, or as a mild diuretic.
Jamaican Sorrel Drink tends to be more fruity and refreshing, while other West Indian or Caribbean islands may add nutmeg and/or cinnamon, making it a somewhat spicier drink. Experiment with it and add the flavors you like best. Personally, I really think the rum adds love to the drink ( ), but the recipe tastes equally delicious with or without it. Try it. You will love it!!
1 pound fresh or dried sorrel sepals (petals)
About 2 inches (or 2 ounces) fresh ginger, peeled and grated
6 to 12 pimento seeds (allspice berries) (optional) or 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
About 8 ½ cups water*
1/3 to 1 cup sugar
¼ cup white rum, or to taste (optional)
Red wine to taste (optional)
If desired, you may also add other spices such as cinnamon, cloves, grated orange peel.
*The ratio of sorrel to water should be nearly to the point where the sorrel flowers have to be stuffed into the water and you can barely add anymore (maximum concentration).
1. Wash sorrel very thoroughly, drain and place in stainless steel pot of water.
2. Peel and grate ginger and add to sorrel along with pimento seeds. Boil for 10 to 15 minutes or until the sorrel sepals are soft and the liquid is red.
3. Cool and let mixture steep in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
4. Strain into a large container, removing the sepals and pimento, and squeezing out juice.
5. Strain a second time to remove particles and residue.
6. Add sugar, stirring well to dissolve sugar. Note: Sorrel is quite bitter so some amount of sugar is necessary. If you think it needs more, add it now. Red wine (if using) will also sweeten the drink. If you over-sweeten it, simply add a bit more water.
7. Add rum and/or wine to taste. You can omit the rum/wine and add them glass-by-glass when serving the drinks.
8. Allow to stand at room temperature for at least 4-6 hours. Bottle and refrigerate.
9. Serve chilled over ice cubes.
Makes about 8 cups of liquid.