Sorrel is a drink that is traditionally served at Christmas time in the Caribbean. It is made by steeping the sepals of the Roselle (Hibiscus) plant in water with spices. There are many different versions of this drink: some people add ginger or cloves, others add white rum etc. The recipe I’m sharing today belonged to my grandmother, and is non-alcoholic. Some sorrel recipes require you to steep the mixture for hours, or leave it overnight to develop the flavours. This version uses a lot of spices, so that the mixture can become flavourful in a shorter period of time.
I used fresh Sorrel for this recipe because it happened to be available, but dried works just as well. Just don’t confuse these ruby-red plants with sorrel greens. If you don’t want to go through the steeping process yourself, look for Sorrel syrup in West Indian or Asian stores.
If you haven’t had Sorrel before, you might be surprised by the taste. It’s difficult to describe… it’s more floral then fruity, and sort of tastes like spiced lemonade if you don’t add enough sweetener (sugar, agave syrup, etc.). It’s really important to adjust the flavours to suit your preference by adding more water and sweetener to the mixture. Also, Spiced Caribbean Sorrel Drink is best served very cold.
Just a word of caution: the Sorrel mixture will stain anything and everything it touches. The plant is very pigmented, and while the lovely pinkish-red colour is lovely in a glass, you don’t want to get this on your clothes or tablecloth
- 5 cups sorrel flowers (sepals)
- 16 cups water
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 4 star anise pods
- white sugar, to taste (or Agave syrup)
- Combine all the ingredients, except the sugar, in a large pot.
- Simmer for about 45 minutes, the mixture should be fragrant and the liquid will be red.
- Strain the mixture through a cheesecloth-lined sieve into a glass pitcher. Set aside in fridge to chill.
- To serve: pour the Sorrel into a glass and add a spoonful of sugar. Taste it, if it's too sour, add more sugar or dilute with some cold water. To create pink foam on top of the liquid, mix with a Milk Frother
- Add ice, and serve.