Rosselle ( hybiscus sabdariffa) is a species of hibiscus, being an annual or perennial Woody based, flowering shrub.
Roselle is a member of the Malvaceae family of plants. Other well-known members of this family include cotton, cacao and okra. It grows in tropical and subtropical areas, especially India and Malaysia. Cultivation of the Roselle dates back at least 6000 years and it’s found in so many parts of the world it’s origin is uncertain today. Rosselle is grown and used worldwide.
Commonly it’s known as the Rosella or the Rozelle. The main part of the plant that is used is the calyx structure around the petals, however the flowers, the leaves and seeds and roots are used medicinally and as a food source.
Rosella’s will grow in almost any type of soil, theiving in well drained garden beds with lots of organic matter. Ideally, it needs 5 or 6 months of warm weather to produce ripe fruit. Always save some seed for next year’s plants, the seeds only remain viable for two to three years. Store them in an airtight container, in the bottom of a fridge. The Rosselle has few pest and disease problems, most of these problems can be solved with a soap spray or molasses spray.The calyx bright red, but the flower and the seed pod inside should be green when harvested
The common use for these tasty calyx is to make rosella jam or jellies or sweet fruit syrups with them. Rosselles also make a delicious tea and do well in puddings. Heavenly liqueurs and syrups sauces and cordials. We often find them fermented into a wine or soft drink, and so often the fruit preserves are added to a glass of champagne.
In Asia roselles are cook with rice and meat and fish soups, and over in Burma it’s widely eaten vegetable and frequently match with fish and seafood.
The seeds high protein, an are ground and eaten in soups or roasted and drunk as coffee alternative, it seems it can also be fermented and eaten as a meat substitute.
The flowers are rich in anthocyanins and the fleshy calyces are particularly high in the anti-inflammatory flavonoids, anthocyanidins and polysaccharides. Flowers are also a good source of fat soluble antioxidants (vitamin E).The active ingredients are bioavailable in liquid infusions like teas. Leaves and seeds of the Hibiscus are rich in minerals and vitamins ( B’s and C), and are high in carbohydrates and protein, with an abundance of antioxidants. Also high in proteins fats and minerals are the seeds.
How many countries of the world, grind parts of the Roselle which are used in traditional medicine. The polyphenols and the anthocyanidins, have multiple biological effects including potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial activity. Research has shown that Hibiscus lowers hypertension, and high cholesterol, and in Western Herbal Medicine the Hibiscus has been used in cholesterol management, weight loss, urinary tract treatment, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.
Overall it has many health benefits and is a delicious and nutritious food and drink.
Making Roselle (or Rosella) jam.
Rosella jam is tangy, tasty, and packed full of vitamin C, delicious like any red Jam or syrup. Usually only found at Nans’ or at school fares.
Prepare jars for preserves buy washing with detergent and warm water,dry and warm the jars by placing in a slow oven, for around 10 minutes. Then pour boiling water over the lids and drain. Ensure that you fill jars while jam and jars are both warm. Seal and cool.
- Juice of one lemon
- Strip calyces from the seed pods rinse each separately.
- Play seeds in a large pot cover with water bring to the boil for one hour straining muslin and squeeze very tight there been sure to get all gell liquid out of them .( This gel contains the pectin , a setting agent ) Discard the seeds.
- Add drained calyces to the liquid from seeds, bring to boil for one hour, until pulp is formed.
- Measure pulp, add juice of one lemon and add sugar Cup for Cup.
- Bring back to the boil and boil rapidly for 20 minutes, Uncovered while stirring, until Jam Falls thickly from spoon when tested.
- Bottle into sterilised jars while jam and jars are still warm.
Serve with toast, scones, pancakes, waffles, ice-cream or in desserts.