About 10 years ago I hosted a “ladies only” potluck dinner party. At the party I served sorrel – a drink which is a favorite in my family but most often made during the Christmas Season. I wanted to share a uniquely cultural non alcoholic beverage with my friends. The drink was SUCH A HIT that I was pleasantly amazed! One of my guests at that party years ago – Maria, recently asked me for the “recipe.” So here goes.
Sorrel is very popular in the Caribbean. As a child in Guyana, I remember seeing it growing wild along the side of the road. As with many other things that are so ubiquitous to my childhood – it is only as an adult that I learned that sorrel comes from a tropical hibiscus plant. I remember even arguing with people that hibiscus and sorrel were entirely different things! Well – you live and learn!
Perfect for Christmas, sorrel is also the perfect beverage to usher in the New Year with your loved ones.
The fresh sorrel bud is EXTREMELY TART – it reminds me of fresh cranberries in the intensity of its tartness. This potency is heightened in the dried sorrel and a little goes a long way. It is the dried sorrel that we use to make our festive Christmas drink.
Where to Buy
Dried sorrel can be found in produce markets that cater to Caribbean, Guyanese and Asian tastes. Sorrel is popular in China and Thailand as well as in the Caribbean and Guyana.
SHINDY’S SORREL DRINK
PREPARATION TIME: 6 hours to 3 days
- The beverage is made from dried “sorrel” which is the thick sepal of the hibiscus flower.
- You can expect to make up to 3 batches of sorrel of waning intensity from this recipe.
- Patience/planning ahead brings its rewards.
- 3 cups dried sorrel
- 3-5 sticks cinnamon
- A little more that 1/2 tbsp cloves
- 2 inches fresh ginger peeled and thinly sliced
- 10 cups boiling hot water
- 1 cup brown sugar plus more to taste
- An unspecified amount of extra water (at room temperature) and sugar to bring the sorrel to the desired flavor.
- (Optional) 1 large lemon washed thoroughly
method: FIRST BATCH
- Place the dried sorrel, cinnamon, cloves and ginger in a medium sized pot.
- Bring 10 cups of water to a boil in a separate pot or kettle.
- Pour the boiling water over the sorrel and other spices.
- Add the sugar and stir to dissolve .
- Let the mixture sit for anywhere between 6 – 24 hours. The longer it sits the better. If you are brewing for over 24 hours you should refrigerate the mixture.
- Using a fine sieve, pour off the liquid sorrel “tea” into a large serving pitcher. It should have a mouthwatering ruby red or deep crimson color.
- DO NOT DISCARD THE SORREL BUDS
- Here’s where it’s up to you: Taste the sorrel. It should have a very strong delicious flavor. If the flavor is too tart for you at this point, dilute the sorrel by gradually adding water and dissolving additional sugar until you approach the desired flavor. The desired flavor has a pleasant potency and tartness to it. Should not be too sugary or too dilute.
- (Optional) Cut and squeeze the lemon juice into the sorrel. Drop the lemon halves into the sorrel mixture.
- Keep adjusting with water and sugar until you achieve the perfect flavor. BE PATIENT! DILUTE SLOWLY UNTIL YOU GET THE PERFECT FLAVOR
- Serve with ice cubes and a lemon wedge.
SECOND AND THIRD BATCHES
- 2nd Batch: Boil 6-8 cups of water and add it to the mixture with the sorrel buds.
- Allow to brew for at least 24 hours.
- Add another lemon and sugar to taste.
- 3rd Batch: Reduce the amount of water to 4 cups and add lemon and sugar to taste.
Gorgeous Ruby Red Sorrel Ready to Satisfy Your Soul
How do YOU make Sorrel?
Share your technique and recipes with us in the comment section below.
HAPPY 2021! BLESSINGS TO YOU AND YOUR FAMILY!