A month or so ago I went to a “Feria” (in this context a fayre, or show) of produce from the valleys to the west of Santa Cruz. A lot of the exhibits were very similar (honeys, liquors etc.) but there was a lady in a centre stall doing a roaring trade. She was selling home-made jams: kinoto (kumquat), motojobobo (cape gooseberry) and flor de Jamaica (hibiscus). She had also been selling the raw fruit/ flowers though by the time I got there she was low on stock and only had dried flor de Jamaica left. I bought a huge bag for about US$1.50 – even in Bolivia the health food stores would charge 4 or 5 times this amount – and small amounts of the motojobobo and flor de Jamaica jams.
I’ve attached a photo of these jams side by side – no artificial colours have been used (neither the jams or the photos!) – here we are just blessed with fruit and flowers of such vibrant colours.
Flor de Jamaica (Hibiscus Sabdariffa) is believed to be a natural diuretic, high in vitamin C and also able to lower blood glucose in type II diabetics. The most popular way of consuming this flower around the world is as a hot tea or a cold (possibly alcoholic!) beverage.
It (of course) has its own unique aroma and flavour. It is tart and needs sugar to bring out the flavour as well as be palatable. I’ve heard it described as quite similar to cranberry.
Please try it! It is very easy to make a delicious jam from flor de Jamaica.For a jar of jam you will need:
2 cups of dried flor de Jamaica (actually you will be using the calyx, they aren’t flowers)
2 cups of water (this will reduce during cooking)
1 cup of sugar
Empty and clean jam jar (plus a spare)
This recipe assumes you are only going to make a small amount and keep it refrigerated and consume it quickly eg you do not need to follow the procedures for jam as a preserving method. Method:
Put the dried flor de Jamaica in a saucepan with the water. Bring to the boil and then simmer for about 20 minutes or until the calyx really soft.
Transfer to a blender and blitz until you have a paste. At this point I would recommend passing the mixture through a sieve to remove any larger pieces that may remain.
Return to the pan, add the sugar and simmer for a further 20 minutes.
Leave to cool down until just tepid (remember hot sugar is really hot!) and pour into your jam jar. Store in the refrigerator and consume within 3 weeks. I can confirm that this makes a great topping for wholemeal toast and in sandwiches with cream cheese (maybe that’s a UK thing?). It would also be lovely stirred into custard or semolina.Alison Donald is the editor of our free monthly E-zine Bella News.
If you accessed this article from our August 2011 issue of Bella News, return to reading the issue here