Pretty In Pink

Roselle (known as Rosella in Australia) is a species of Hibiscus, a genus of flowering plants numbering in the hundreds and native to temperate, subtropical and tropical regions throughout the world.

It’s also known as red sorrel, Jamaica sorrel, Indian sorrel, Guinea sorrel, sour-sour, Queensland jelly plant, jelly okra, lemon bush, Florida cranberry, amongst a whole list of other names. Jelly okra doesn’t sound too lovely to me!

Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa) is commonly grown for bast fibre, which is used in the manufacture of rope, matting, carpets, paper and even furniture. The red sepals (part of the flower) are used as food colourings in America and Europe.

And flowers and syrup are used to flavour a variety of dishes, restorative infusions, diuretic tonics and medical ointments in places as far afield as Senegal, Burma, Sudan, India and Brazil. The Senegalese use the leaves too, as a vegetable green.

More recently, roselle seems to have become trendy in Western European bars and restaurants, where preserved flowers and syrups are now available.

When I was offered a jar of the flowers in their own syrup, I was curious, having heard of them only in the last year, but never having tried them. The 250 gram jar contains 11 flowers.

I decided to keep things simple and opted for trying the flowers in champagne, one of the most common serving suggestions. To my good fortune, I discovered a bottle of Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Rosé in the cupboard. How serendipitous!

I took both Rosella and the champers along on a visit to friends and together, we gave it a try.


Our flowers never opened as beautifully as those in the marketing shots (no big shock there) and the rosé champagne did, perhaps, subtract a little from the beautiful colour that the syrup imparted.

However, we liked the fruity jam aroma and the sweet floral taste. And certainly, we enjoyed sipping our rather elegant and unusual aperitif…

…before tucking into a takeaway curry from the local curry house!

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7 Comments to "Pretty In Pink"

  1. Miss Whiplash

    I like these – I have a jar in the fridge.
    I have trouble deciding what to put them in, though.
    Somehow it seems a bit wasteful of my Lovely Champagne…

  2. Kavey

    Sssh don't tell anyone, but I'm not a huge fan of champagne on it's own, no matter how excellent a champagne it might be, so having it like this improves it, for me!

  3. Ute@HungryinLondon

    We had a jar but the cat threw it off the shelf – it was a sticky mess you can imagine! So I still have no idea how they taste… I do like my champagne without anything best though.

  4. TheFastestIndian

    I had some hibiscus 'cordial' in India a few years ago. It didn't involve any flowers but tasted like a combo of rose water and Ribena! Certainly not unpleasant but I didn't bother bringing any back home!


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