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Food for Thought


Jamaican Style


Sorrel was bought from the East Indies via the slave trade to Jamaica in 1760. I bet they didn’t know that it would be the drink enjoyed by many households today during the festive season and New Year.

Christmas 1992 in Clarendon, Jamaica, I saw bundles of red flowers on stalks only to find out it was that lovely Christmas drink called sorrel in its raw state.

Oh my enlightenment time, each flower had to be removed from the stalk, flowers removed from the seed whole, but if broken the petal were separated.

Grandma’s Sorrel was sold in the market as whole flowers with and without seed.

Well it took me a few broken flowers to get the hang of it. My fingers became red and sore but the sun was out, the company was fun and soon the four buckets for seeds, whole flowers without seeds, another with seed and my broken flowers were full.  Guess what? That meant more drinks for me… yeah!


English sorrel cannot be drank as it is a herb, instead it is used in salads and fish.


Sorrel is a popular drink at Christmas time, but can be made at any time of the year.

So how do you make it?  The broken petals are washed quickly and placed into a large pan of already pounded ginger and water to make the amount of sorrel you will drink during the festive season. (Some people add pimento seeds or cloves.)

The rest of the broken petals are placed in the sun to dry.  These are not washed.

Once boiled for a few minutes turn off the sorrel and ginger and leave to steep for 24 hours.  Strain the sorrel and ginger into a large container and discard the sorrel and ginger.

Now for the good part, add sugar or sweetener of your choice to taste its ready to drink over ice without alcohol. If you want the alcoholic version add Red Label wine or Port and white rum to taste, pour into glass bottles and store in a cool place, these bottles can last up to one year. Do not store in plastic bottles as it will burst as the sorrel ferments.

Sit back and enjoy the fruit of our labour over ice.   

Sorrel is also known as hibiscus and can help reduce pain, inflammation as it is a diuretic and helps with the respiratory tract.  Sorrel is also an ingredient in the herbal cancer treatment Essiac.


Paulette Freeman

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