For those who have been waiting I apologize. For those who've never heard of it, you're in for an unusual but delicious treat.
It's probably the most popular drink I make and after sharing it on a travel site, I realized that I haven't shared the recipe here yet. If you're familiar with Sorrel, you might have your own recipe already. It's enjoyed all across the Caribbean.
|The purplish bits at the top are the dried sorrel sepals.|
The drink is made using dried or fresh when available, sorrel sepals. It's essentially an hibiscus tea that is steeped with spices and citrus. The make up of which spices you use and whether or not you make a syrup, depend on which island your recipe comes from. I was first introduced to a Guyanese version, but wanted to make one that was closer to those from Barbados. Ultimately, it was after a trip to Dominica a few years ago, that my version of the recipe fully took shape.
|The mountainside in Dominica.|
Seeing all of the ginger, cinnamon and hibiscus growing wild in the same place and watching the processing of the fresh sepals at the market made an impression that will last forever.
As luck would have it, the regular tour wasn't available and a guide had to be hired for the day. One of the best things to happen, as he knew how to identify all of the plants on the island, and even stopped to harvest fresh cinnamon bark.
|Yep, the guide just happened to have that knife.|
I really wanted to teach a seminar about Sorrel while cruising through the islands where it's so popular. There are some tricky laws about importing dried flowers that were already exported, plus boarding the ship in Brazil didn't help. I don't know how it would have worked if not for Dominica. A self sustaining agricultural system is rare in the Caribbean but they are fiercely committed. There was wild fruit growing all over the island and the outdoor market was packed with fresh produce.
|Hanging in the grocery store, I love to visit them everywhere I go.|
One of the most important items was the locally made rum. The Macoucherie is the only rum produced on the island that uses domestic sugar cane. They also use something grown on the island known as bios-bandè, a highly regulated plant known for its purported aphrodisiac properties.
|You'd think the artwork would have given a clue but I had to look it up.|
It really was a beautiful and lush island, not at all what I imagined before going down to the Caribbean. The drink which I always really liked, became even more important to me. Now it reminds me of the mountainside, wild ingredients and how the flavours from plants that grow together can have a natural affinity.
If you can make tea you can make this drink. The sorrel sepals are available in West Indian and Asian markets and might be labeled Roselle. But if you really can't find any, you could use hibiscus tea. Sorrel is very popular both as a tea and a cocktail.
1 1/2 oz white rum
1 oz sorrel syrup*
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
2-3 drops Angostura bitters
In a shaker add all ingredients, fill 3/4 with ice. Shake vigorously for 20- 30 seconds, strain into old fashioned glass filled with cracked ice. Garnish with lemon zest and/or sorrel.
2 C water
1 C dried sorrel sepals
1 1/2 tbsp clove, whole
2 inches fresh ginger
1 orange, zest only
1 cinnamon stick
1 1/2 C sugar
In a heavy bottom sauce pan, boil water. Remove from heat, add remaining ingredients excepting sugar. Steep for several hours. Strain tea through fine mesh or cheesecloth, discard solids (optional, retain some of the sepals for garnish). Return remaining liquid to pan. Add sugar. Heat over medium, stirring frequently until sugar dissolves. Allow to cool.
Do you make your own Sorrel? Please let me know, I'm always eager to hear the variations.