I love dried fruits, and dried Hibiscus is one of my favorites (oh yes, Hibiscus is not a fruit but flower… anyways…). I always thought that dried Hibiscus, like fig and red date (aka Chinese Jujube), is common in Asia and probably less familiar among westerners. But when my dear friend, Winifred, gave me a pack of dried sweetened Hibiscus during her visit to Hong Kong from California earlier last week, I knew I was wrong. And I was surprised when Winifred told me that dried sweetened Hibiscus is so common in the states that it can be found in many supermarkets. Take about accessibility, I haven’t seen any supermarket in Hong Kong selling dried Hibiscus.
Hibiscus sabdariffa has many names, like Florida cranberry, Roselle, Sorrel, Rosemallow, and Flor De Jamaica. When it is brought to the kitchen, it can be of many uses. We can make tea, jam and jelly from Hibiscus, as well as wine (I have found this article about Hibiscus wine by Julie Ardery of Human Flower Project, very interesting, as well as other articles too, worth checking out 😉 ), the flavoring of someone’s home-brewed beer, as well as crashed the dried Hibiscus into flakes and use as condiment for sauces, ice-cream, etc.
Besides being a good ingredient during cooking, Hibiscus sabdariffa is a medicinal plant. Chinese add Hibiscus into their herbal tea to soothe colds, clear up mucous, strengthen kidney function, and help digestion. Oh, and it is also rich in vitamin C.
All these just give me more reasons to love this snack