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Hibiscus Jamaica is the calyx of a flower, which is the bud's outer layer that protects the developing petals, stigma, and stamens. Each calyx is comprised of individual sepals that are fleshy and smooth when fresh with a maroon to dark red hue. When the calyx is dried, the sepals will shrivel and wrinkle, develop a crisp and chewy consistency, and darken into shades of burgundy, purple, and red. Dried Hibiscus Jamaica has a sweet and tangy flavor mixed with tart undertones and refreshing floral notes.
Hibiscus Jamaica can be used to flavor and naturally color beverages, main dishes, sauces, and desserts. The sepals can be steeped in boiling water to make a tea, or they can be incorporated into sparkling water, juices, and cocktails for an added sweet-tart flavor. The steeped liquid can also be poured into popsicle molds or ice cube trays and frozen, infused into vinaigrettes, or used to make tangy jello. In addition to beverages, Hibiscus Jamaica is traditionally utilized to color desserts such as cookies, flan, cakes, and tarts. It can also be cooked into jams and jellies, infused into icings, incorporated into sauces, syrups, and salsa, or used in savory dishes such as enchiladas and roasted meats. Hibiscus Jamaica pairs well with meats such as lamb, duck, and venison, ginger, rhubarb, spices such as cinnamon, anise, and nutmeg, agave, honey, and fruits such as pineapple, pear, and citrus.
Dried Hibiscus Jamaica will keep for two years when stored in a cool, dry, and dark place away from direct sunlight.
4 cups water, divided
2 teaspoons dried hibiscus
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons raw honey