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Sorrel

My introduction to sorrel happened in a Jamaican restaurant long ago and it was love at first sip. Something about that wonderful mix of sweet, sour, spicy and the seductive deep red hue of sorrel always lingered long after the last drop was gone. ‘I wish I could make that,’ I’d think. Then one day before I moved to Namibia for a teaching gig, it occurred to me ‘I can try.’

I’m a firm believer in ancestral memory and such, so I figured that while making sorrel might not be in my DNA (or then again it might be because the Senegalese make it and call it Bissap), I might come up with something respectable anyway. I went to the store and got myself a package of dried sorrel. My first surprise was that sorrel is a hibiscus flower. I started combing recipes and labels on the sorrel I liked. My next surprise was that it was traditionally served as a Christmas drink in Jamaica and folk often mixed it with rum. The third surprise was that sorrel can be as wild or as tame as the person who makes it. There are no hard and fast rules. So here I am, many batches of good sorrel later ready to share my recipe.

Why?

Because sorrel is a delicious vitamin c rich, blood purifying, digestive powerhouse. I have been reading up on Ayurveda lately and somehow it’s helping Robin’s teachings about the healing capacities of the spices we use in cooking to sink in.

I’d always associated sorrel with summer, but late last fall I served it warm to friends because it felt like the thing to do.  Later I found that hibiscus flowers are used against colds and fevers. When you add ginger,cinnamon, and cloves–which are great for working through colds, coughs and flus; helping to heal respiratory problems; and moving mucous out of our systems– you’ve got yourself some delicious medicine. Add your own spin to it. Have fun. Add rum if you want. Enjoy.

Ekere’s Sassy Sorrel

1 cup Dried hibiscus flowers

as much fresh ginger as you’d like

3 cloves

generous sprinkling of cinnamon or 3/4 sticks

1/2 lime or orange

honey or agave to taste

Put seven cups of water in a pot on the stove to boil. Meanwhile, take the fresh ginger, peel it and pound it with a mortar.

Place the hibiscus flowers in a mason jar and add the ginger, cinnamon, and cloves.

Cut the lime in half. Add the juice of one half of the lime and slice the other half and drop the slices in my jar. If I am using an orange, I give it a little squeeze, and put half of it sliced in my jar (I eat the other half)

When the water boils, pour it over the herbs in the mason jar. Fill the jar all the way to the top and cap it. Let this sit overnight. Ah, the anticipation.

The next day, strain the sorrel making sure to squeeze the hibiscus to get all the good stuff out. Then add either honey or agave to taste.

Stir, stir, stir.

Drink, drink,drink.

Remember that you can get as creative as you want with this. I have added rose petals and lemon balm to my sorrel too.

sorrel AKA bissap

sorrel AKA bissap

Any other sorrel recipes out there?

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