Living in Arizona has become such a pleasure as I discover how to use the plants that grow so well here in the desert. Hibiscus Sabdariffa, also known as Roselle, is one of those fantastic plants that actually thrives in the summer heat. If you’ve ever had Red Zinger tea, then you’ve had Hibiscus Sabdariffa. The calyx of this plant has a delicious tartness that would remind you of fresh cranberries. The leaves are also edible and have the same lemony tartness. I truly love this plant. You can dry the leaves and add them as a powder to smoothies. The calyxes also can be dried to become a flavorful tea that is high in vitamin C.
Hibiscus Sabdariffa is Easy to Grow
In Arizona you can plant the seeds in May and harvest the leaves all through the summer. Around the end of September it will begin to bloom and then develop the deep red calyces you can harvest and use. This tropical plant doesn’t quite make it through the winters here, but they grow so large in our hot summers that it’s no problem to pull it out after your harvest and plant it again in the spring. Just be sure to save some seeds for next year. If you don’t have seeds you can get them at Baker Creek.
Here are a couple recipes to try just to get your creativity flowing.
- 2 cups chopped Hibiscus calyces
- 1 granny smith apple, peeled, cored and chopped
- 1/4 medium red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1/2 large red pepper, roughly chopped
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/3 cup no-sugar added applesauce
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
- 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced (use the seeds if you want more heat)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- Remove all the calyces from the seed pods. They are easy to pull off.
- Combine all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and pulse until combined (and it is the texture you want).
- Refrigerate for at least 2 hours to give the flavors a chance to meld. It can be made and refrigerated for up to a week or longer.
- Serve with tortilla chips.
Hibiscus Crumb Bars
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup almond meal
- 1 cup cold butter (2 sticks)
- 1 egg
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon (I left this out by accident)
- juice of 1/2 of an orange
- 3 cups chopped hibiscus calyces, removed from seed pod.
- 2/3 cup white sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 Tbs cornstarch
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter a 9×13 inch pan.(I lined my pan with wax paper).
- In a food processor, add 1 cup sugar, flour, almond meal, salt and baking powder. Pulse until it looks like little pebbles, add the egg and pulse a few more times. Pat half of the dough into the buttered pan.
- In another bowl, stir together the sugar, cornstarch, vanilla, and orange juice. Mix in the hibiscus. Sprinkle the hibiscus mixture evenly over the dough in the pan.
- Add 1/4 tsp cinnamon to the remaining dough, then crumble dough over the top. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until top is a light golden brown. Cool completely and chill in the refrigerator before cutting into squares. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.