Monday, January 2, 2012

Foreign Fruits, Take II

Bright red sorrel for sale

At the St. John's public market the other day, we came across several vendors selling these ruby-red, pod-like clusters...and as usual, not being familiar with them, inquired what they were! We were told they were sorrel, used to make a festive holiday drink here in the Caribbean. Caribbean sorrel is actually a type of hibiscus plant (Hibiscus sabdariffa) that blooms in November and  December, just in time for the Christmas holidays. Indeed, the market was full of piles of freshly-picked sorrel pods, glowing brightly in the sunshine, looking very merry for themselves.

We asked Etta, one of the many local market women, what one did with sorrel. While sorrel leaves, fruit and flowers are all edible, it is the gorgeous red sorrel sepals that are used to make this drink as well as jellies, jams, chutney and syrups. After discussing the many qualities of Sorrel Drink (as always, "very healthy" and "good for the males"!) we purchased two bags of sorrel sepals already separated from the interior seed, and Etta graciously gave us her recipe for making sorrel juice. We went home and immediately put it to the test! Here it is, as best as I can transcribe it:

The essential ingredients
2 bunches sorrel pods (approximately 2 cups)
8 cups water
1 tsp. freshly grated ginger
1 stick cinnamon
4 whole cloves
dash of grated orange peel

Our sorrel pods boiling on the stove
Bring your pot of  water to a boil, then add all the ingredients to the pot. Bring back to a boil, then reduce heat to keep it at rolling boil. Boil for about 5 minutes, cover and remove from heat, stir in 1/2 cup sugar and steep overnight. In the morning, strain the contents into a juice jug and taste. You may need to add more water if the juice is very thick and syrupy, and adjust to taste if you feel it needs more sugar.  Then --- enjoy!!

Sorrel juice is light and tart, somewhat like cranberry but with a mellower, more pleasant flavor. We fell in love with it -- easy to make, and very refreshing! We didn't add much sugar (my palate preferring it less sweet) but it really is a very delicious, thirst-quenching drink! We are looking forward to trying it this evening as a sundowner mixer with a bit of Antiguan rum, or perhaps tomorrow morning with a bit of champagne for a brunch treat….should be fun!


  1. Hi Karyn (and Ron)!
    This is Andrea and Sarah McGovern. We met you at the Tampa Airport and talked about skydiving for about an hour. It was so exciting to meet someone who could guide and encourage us to pursue skydiving.
    We searched for you on Facebook but couldn't find you :(
    If and when you get a chance, look us up and friend us. We would love to keep in touch.
    Thanks so much, it was great meeting you!
    Andrea and Sarah

  2. Andrea, I've searched FB for you too, and can't find you, either!! I'll keep trying, so hopefully we can connect!


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