Sorrel has always been an integral part of Jamaican (& Caribbean) food and culture, especially in the festive Christmas season.
There is the delicious 'rice and red kidney beans', the rum soaked Black Christmas cake, but equally significant, is the delectable taste of sorrel.
Much of the love comes from the smooth taste because of the addition of rum. In fact, it is really the rum element that distinguishes our sorrel!
I not a neat rum drinker preferring rum punch in all its different mixes; However, the rum does not detract from the cake and you can still eat it. I also add red label wine to my fruit as they soak. The amount of rum added is purely discretionary - and even if already added, as previously described it can be diluted with other light drinks, or sodas. Sorrel however, is not indigenous to Jamaica. In fact, it is found all around the world. Officially called the Roselle plant (Hibiscus sabdariffa), it is a specie of hibiscus native to the Old World tropics. It is an annual or perennial herb or woody-based subshrub, growing to 2–2.5 m tall. The leaves are deeply three- to five-lobed, 8–15 cm long, arranged alternately on the stems. The flowers are white to pale yellow with a dark red spot at the base of each petal and have a stout fleshy calyx at the base, which enlarges to a fleshy and bright red as the fruit matures.
We typically reap it towards the end of the year, between November and December.
We love it primarily for the savory taste but it is also used for a host of other purposes, including as a diuretic, mild laxative, and treatment for cardiac and nerve diseases and even cancers!
Authentic Jamaican Sorrel Drink Recipe
Ingredients 1 pound sorrel 1/2 gallon water Sugar 2-4 oz. ginger Rum (or red label wine) 1 doz Pimento (allspice) grains (optional)
Wash sorrel thoroughly, drain and place in bowl. Peel and grate ginger and add to sorrel. Add pimento berries. Boil water and pour over sorrel. Allow to stand for at least 4-6 hours. Strain, then sweeten and add rum to taste. Serve chilled