If you’ve ever sipped a bright magenta-colored cup of Red Zinger tea you’re on familiar terms with hibiscus. In Latin countries, dried hibiscus flowers are known as flor de jamaica and are blended into all sorts of beverages, hot and cold.
Brewed dried hibiscus flowers make jewel-toned gorgeous drinks; it’s also loaded with vitamin C, with a tart flavor that will make your cheeks attempt to suck themselves back into your face. I think it’s much more interesting than sucking on a lemon, though. Under the sourness is a background flavor that reminds me of raspberries and pomegranate.
The September issue of St. Louis’ Sauce Magazine features a story by photographer Greg Rannells, 8 delicious ways to fool around with these exotic flowers. I was moved into action by Greg’s idea for paletas, number 3 on the list. After what seems like and endless summer of 100-degree days, all things cold and thirst quenching are highly appealing.
You’ll end up with extra syrup after making this recipe. Go ahead and make another batch of pops, or keep the syrup chilled to add to sparkling water, wine or cocktails. Hibiscus Margarita anyone?
4 cups water
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup dried hibiscus flowers (available at Latin groceries or natural foods stores)
Freshly grated zest of one lime
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice ( 4 - 6 limes, depending on how juicy they are)
Pinch fine sea salt
- Bring the water and sugar to a boil in a saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add the hibiscus flowers, turn off the heat and let the mixture steep at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour for a stronger color and flavor.
- Strain the syrup into a metal or glass bowl and chill in the refrigerator until super cold. Pour 2 cups of the syrup into a 4-cup liquid measuring cup (or a bowl); stir in 1 cup cold water, lime zest, juice and salt. Pour into a popsicle mold and freeze until solid.