It's been awhile since I've posted an addition to my fridge door project. The problem hasn't been that I haven't been making anything, it's just that I'm still tweaking some of the things I have made. If you deem the newest jar of pickles too vinegar-y then you still have to finish them before making a new batch. Or at least that's how we roll.
Fortunately for you guys (and our taste buds) this one turned out pretty darn great the first time. I'd been trying to decide how to replace the sugar-y corn syrup sweetened juices in the fridge door. There's usually a bottle of cranberry and a bottle of pink grapefruit in there. We don't often drink either straight, but we'll mix in club soda to dilute them. I don't have a juicer nor did I want to start the habit of handing over a large percentage of our grocery budget to expensive fruit. Is fruit expensive everywhere? I always feel like it's crazy expensive here. And then wandering around at the Bordeaux Fair last weekend with my go-to local sorrel drink in my hand, I was all like duuuh! So I hightailed it over to the nearest stand with a pile of the dried red flowers and started asking questions. "A pound of flowers will make about two gallons of drink." "They're five dollars per pound." "It takes about ten minutes." "You add whatever spices you want."
Half a pound of sorrel flowers came home with me that day.
Now, as well as I've been told, sorrel is a type of hibiscus but is not the pretty hibiscus flowers you always see in pictures and around the island. It is the same "hibiscus" that is in tea and other drinks, but they fool you by putting a picture of a more familiar flower on the label. That's how it has been explained to me. Seems like it's likely true because in my ten years I've never observed anyone cooking those pretty flowers straight off the bush in their front yard.
What I love about sorrel drink is that it's heavily spiced. It's the complete opposite of all the sweet fruit juices you normally associate with the Caribbean (pineapple, guava, mango). I might continue to play around with the spices in the future, but I was pretty happy with what I decided on for my first batch. Everyone I asked at the fair said cinnamon and cloves were a must. Allspice might be good too, but I didn't try it. Google tells me ginger is a staple of the Trinidadian version. I went with a stick of cinnamon, five cloves, and four strips of orange zest.
Tear the petals off of each flower (as you see above). You don't need the seeds, only the petals. They don't dye your fingers red as I was fearful they might. Fill a pot on the stove with water and drop in the spices. Bring it to a boil. Once it's boiled, drop in the petals and turn off the heat. It quickly goes from this:
Now you just let it sit and steep. I was originally told ten minutes but it was too weak for me at that point. I wound up letting it steep for twenty minutes, heating it back to a boil, and then steeping for another ten minutes.
When you're satisfied with the taste, sweeten to your liking. Pour through a strainer and throw away the solids. Enjoy over ice! I definitely found that this tasted even better the next day but it was still great day of. Next time I may increase the amount of sorrel I put in to make it stronger and better to mix with club soda, but for now we're happily drinking it on it straight up.
Locally on St Thomas you can buy sorrel at farmers markets and occasionally I see dried packages of them at Fruit Bowl. Elsewhere, check the international section of your grocery store. The Caribbean, Mexican, or African sections may have them dried in bags. Or you can just find them on Amazon.
The amount of sorrel you use per gallon of water is up to you. I started with 1/2lb and will probably increase it for my next batch for a stronger drink.
1/2lb-1lb sorrel flowers
1 gallon water
1 cinnamon stick
4 strips orange zest
sweetener of your choice (I used 3/4 c. fair trade sugar)
Pull the petals off of the flowers. Throw the seeds away. Put your spices in a pot with the water and bring to a boil. When water is boiling, turn off heat and add the sorrel petals. Cover and let stand 15 minutes. Taste and if drink is too weak, bring water to boil again, turn off heat, and allow stand another 15 minutes. Continue until flavor is to your liking. Add the sugar. Pour into a pitcher through a fine mesh strainer, discard solids, and serve over ice.
More from the Fridge Door Project:
Currently working on:
- Garlic Dill Pickles
- Tomato Jam (which I prefer over ketchup)
- Berry Jam