Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa, flor de Jamaica, rosella, Chaye-Torosh in Iran, karkade in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan, Florida cranberry, Jamaica sorrel and chin baung in Burma.
I had not planned on making jelly this week. I had spent time at the greenhouse where I am growing plants for the refugee garden. I noticed that the roselle plant (a kind of hibiscus) was beginning to lose its pale yellow flowers and was developing seed pods. I remembered that in Mexico they make a tea out of the red caylx surrounding the flowers and seed pods. I decided that I wanted to learn more about this plant. I discovered recipes that the Burmese make with the leaves (which is why I was growing it for them). Mexicans dry the calyx for the making the tea. I then learned that Australians make a jam with the same calyx. Oh my. A jam or jelly that I haven’t made.
Apparently the early settlers in Australia found this plant growing wild and used it to make a jam. An interesting property of the seeds is that the contents of the seed pod produces natural pectin so the Australians only needed sugar to make jam with what they called rosella. Being the Texas Jelly Maker I decided to make jelly rather than jam. First you pull off the red calyx which was the base of the flower. You may wonder how to tell if the calyx is ready. Basically you are looking for a large calyx which has developed after the flower falls off. The larger the better. After removing the calyxes you will be left with a ball shaped seed pod. Since I am making jelly I can discard the seed pod. If you are making jam you will cover the seed pods with 5 cups of water and cook them for 15-30 minutes. For my jelly recipe I then add 5 cups of water to 10 cups of the calyxes in the pot. I boil them for 15 minutes or until they are soft. At that point I pour the liquid into a sieve to remove the calyxes. I return the liquid to the stove and cook until the boiling point. I then add sugar and lemon juice. After it comes to a full boil I then add the no sugar needed pectin and boil for 1 minute and 30 seconds. After it cools slightly I pour the jelly into freezer containers. When the contents cool I then label and date the containers and put them in the freezer. Apparently I occasionally forget to label the jellies and then I have to taste the jellies in the freezer to determine which kind of jelly I made.
This jelly makes a beautiful raspberry colored jelly. It has a tart taste that many people (including myself) find irresistible.
Roselle Jelly Recipe
10 cups roselle calyxes
3 cups sugar
4 tablespoons no sugar needed pectin
1/4 cup lemon juice