At the markets in Brisbane two weeks ago (in late March), I found bags of fresh rosella flowers. I’ve never cooked with Rosella flowers before, let me tell you what I learnt.
Rosella is often referred to as “wild hibiscus” in other countries and often used to make cordial, tea or jam.
In Australia, it is classified as a ‘bush tucker’ food.
Preparing the Rosella flowers for cooking / eating
The edible part of a rosella flower is the calyx (the petals around the seed pod). The large round seed pod is not edible and should be removed before cooking.
To remove the seed pod of a rosella flower, simply cut the base of the flower, you can then use your finger or a skewer to push the seed pod out through the petals of the flower. (See photo below)
To prepare the flowers for cooking, remove the seed pod, discard the seed pods and rinse the flowers under cold water, place on a towel to dry.
What do Rosella flowers taste like?
By itself, the rosella flower petals are tart in flavour and honestly reminds me of the tart (yet ever so slightly sweet) taste of rhubarb.
Hot Rosella tea
You could use rosella to make a cup of tea by placing a handful of fresh petals (seed pods removed) into a mug of hot water and allow to sit for 5 minutes. You can then drink the tea hot (including the petals).
Chilled Rosella tea
You are most likely to find fresh rosella flowers during the summer months – at a time when iced tea seems more appealing than a cup of hot tea. To make a jug of iced rozella tea, simple place two cups of rosella flowers (seed pods removed) into a jug of hot water. Leave on the bench until cool, then place in the fridge to chill. Serve with ice.
Growing your own rozella plants
If you do manage to find fresh rosella flowers at your local markets, when preparing the rosella flowers for cooking, save a few seed pots and allow them to dry on your window sill. When dry, you can crack open the seed pods to reveal several small black seeds which you can plant in your garden.
Rosella (Wild Hibiscus) in syrup
Due to Rosella flowers being ‘tart’ to taste, many people prefer to sweeten it up a little. Rosella (wild hibiscus) flowers in syrup can be added to champagne or used as a cordial mixed with water or soda water.
You can buy commercially made Rosella flowers in syrup (see photo below as example), however you need to check the label as some brands contain refined white sugar.
My recipe uses coconut sugar (but if you prefer, you could substitute with half a cup of honey).
Note: If you are in Australia, coconut sugar is now sold in many Woolworths stores, you can also buy Banaban Organic Coconut Sugar online from Nature Pacific or their Australian stockists, see www.naturepacific.com
- 4 cups of water
- 5 cups of fresh rosella flowers (seed pods removed)
- ¾ cup of coconut sugar (or ½ cup honey)
- Prepare rosella flowers for cooking by removing the seed pods & rinsing in cold water (read blog post to see how to remove seeds)
- Place 3 cups of rosella flowers and water into a large pot and place on high heat until water starts to boil, reduce heat and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. The water should be a lovely red colour and the flowers should have lost their colour and be a feint red (or even translucent in colour).
- Remove the flowers from the pot and discard.
- Place the pot back on the stove on high heat and allow to boil, add in the coconut sugar (or honey) and stir until it starts to boil.
- Continue to boil for 5 minutes (this will allow the mixture to reduce and thicken).
- Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Turn the heat off and add the remaining 2 cups of rosella flowers.
- Once cool, transfer the rosella in syrup (and flowers) into a sterilised jar (To sterilise a glass jar, rinse with extremely hot water (or place it in the dishwasher as most dishwashers will wash at high temperatures sufficient to sterilise jars).
- Store in the fridge.