Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Have a blooming good New Year!

Once again the time has come to say goodbye. How do you plan on saying farewell and ushering in the new year? Whatever your plans, I'm guessing it will include something bubbly.

Hold on to your glasses because I am about to blow you away with the most amazing garnish for your champagne. It's charming, elegant, exotic and fun.

Take a few minutes to appreciate the awesomeness that is sorrel in syrup.

Wait! Did you just do that typical dismissive West Indian thing?

You DID NOT just steups (suck your teeth at me)!!!

Sigh. You did, didn't you?

It might interest you to know that people pay upwards of $10.00 US for a jar of just eleven of these flowers.

That's right, $63.00 for eleven flowers. And you were grumbling about the high price of sorrel this year at $5.00 or .80 US cents per lb. Not 'steupsing' now are you?

Let us take some time to appreciate the brilliance of the man behind all of this. According to wildhibiscusflowers.com, Lee Etherington is the man who invented this product 11 years ago. Whaaaaaaat??? And all these years I thought God held the patent for wild hibiscus. Maybe Lee thinks he invented the concept of putting sorrel in syrup. Again, this is old news. In the Caribbean we have been boiling and preserving this thing in sugar long before Mr. Etherington was even born. It's an old recipe but Lee has looked at it in a new way. Bloody brilliant. Forget about, out with the old and in with the new. How about keeping the old and making it new.

Lee is to be admired for an effective marketing strategy and branding of this product. Just look at the pretty packaging and the hype he has created about the way these flowers open up, or appear to bloom when placed in an effervescent drink.

This is what the sorrel or wild hibiscus flower looks like. There are several varieties, even a white one but only two are shown here as these are the ones I used.

The one on the left that looks like a jester's hat is less tart and is better suited to making the traditional Caribbean, Christmas time sorrel drink. The flower on the right had a superior flavour when cooked. This is the one to use in your champagne cocktail since it is closed and will 'bloom' when you pour your drink.

Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Syrup (Hibiscus sabdariffa) or
Mock Caribbean Cranberry Sauce

*adapted from the Naparima Girl's High School Cookbook

Makes 2 8oz jars

1 lb sorrel
1 lb granulated sugar
1 stick of cinnamon

Remove the seeds from the flower (* I left the seeds in the flower because I wasn't sure that the flowers would not float to the top of the glass. That, and I was lazy.)

Put sorrel and the cinnamon stick in a pot and just barely cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes until tender. Remove from the heat and measure sorrel. Add 1 cup of sugar for every cup of fruit and juice. Return to the heat and bring to the boil. Cook until water thickens to a thick syrup.
Pour into hot sterilized bottles.

Cooking for a longer time will make sorrel jelly which is good too. The jam does not take too long to cook and sets up rather quickly in about 15 minutes.

Wishing you all a blooming good 2010!


  1. What a fantastic photos to welcome this new year!! happy new year to you!!

  2. What a fancy way to celebrate the New Year! Just a shame I haven't come across the flowers in the UK so far. Hmmm, maybe I should start looking!

  3. OMG, we just found some dried sorrels and made the "tea" by steeping it in hot water...we're going to make the syrup next according to your recipe. We've strained the blossoms...think we have the one that is already bloomed..not the closed one...gorgeous photos btw!

  4. That looks so awesome and festive -I must share with my family!!
    As for us -a night on the Wii!

  5. Thanks for passing from my blog. Happy New Year.

  6. Wishing you and your family a very happy and prosperous New Year dear:)

  7. And these hibicus can easily found around my neighbourhoods. Normally, we boiled it to make the drinking juice. Taste more alike blackcurrant juice!

  8. We West Indians need to start loving the things we have, see them as special and unique and different and :-D

    For some time, I've been thinking planting sorrel around our garden but I can't find the seeds. We make sorrel drink all year round, it's so refreshing.

  9. Michelle - you can purchase the flowers online.

    Ravenous Couple - I have only used the fresh flowers to make the syrup. Let me know how it works with the dried flowers.

    Dee - spread the word girl. I am so excited by this. Look for more recipes featuring this ingredient. I have made several other things using sorrel already. I am hoping to freeze some for later in the year.

    My little space - Yep we use it for juice too.

    Guyana - Gyal - You said it. I love using local ingredients.

  10. Wow, that breathtaking photographs! :O You're really got a gift for photography! Happy New Year! :D

  11. Love this post - Happy New Years to you by the way. I love making hibiscus tea, we just tried some from Egypt but I intend to amaze friends and family with you version, plus I love the idea of adding it to the champagne - sounds amazing.

  12. My mother shteups all of the time --- I HATE it! hahaha! I also have never been able to drink sorrel punch... I guess it's the American in me! Haha but your drink looks deliciously festive!

  13. Happy New Year to you! I love the new look of your blog and the pictures are really beautiful. Make me want to make the drink ASAP!

  14. Best wishes to you and your little family ... Thank you for yours. Let this year be full of happiness, love and especially health! Thank you for all your passes at home during the year 2009, which made me warm at heart. Soon for new culinary adventures!

  15. I've just found your blog. I LOVE it. I'll be back.

    Your photos are gorgeous. I love the one of the window through the champagne glass. A-MAY-ZING.

  16. Such lovely photos! The glasses seem to positively glow.

    Hope you had a very Happy New Year!

  17. I just found your blog and I love it! I'm so excited to browse around... I'll be checking back often :)
    -Mini Baker
    PS. AMAZING photographs!

  18. I love your banner! I had been searching for banners with bakers with darker skin! I'll take a look at the link to the templates you used.

    As everyone has said already, your photos are amazing!!

  19. Absolutely gorgeous photo and fun recipe!!! Glad I found you!

  20. Beautiful photos! That cocktail makes me want it to be New Year's Eve all over again.

  21. Just stumbled upon your blog through Lifespan of a Chennette. What a wonderful series of photographs.
    I will be visiting again soon.

    Who would have "thunk" that Sorrel in Syrup can be "packaged" and sold at that price? Sorrel has been used in so many countries and we take it for granted as people's libation not a gourmet items.

    Time for us to start thinking about what we have around our yard and capitalizing them. Of course, if we try to sell them in our neighborhood, we'll get a lot of steups.


  22. Tuty a big welcome!
    I agree that we take a lot of what we have for granted. More to come on this as I have stocked up on sorrel in the freezer. I love sorrel jam and have been enjoying it in a variety of ways. Stay tuned :-)

  23. Everytime, I went to a Caribbean restaurant, I always asked for a sorrel beverage. I'm wondering where I can get the flower here.