Like a lot of kids, I grew up drinking Ribena, thinking that it was a super healthy beverage. But, now I know that something that tastes so good can’t be all that. Lucky for my daughter (and myself), having roselle plants in the garden means we can make roselle syrup and our own homemade Ribena.
Roselle/rosella (Hibiscus sabdariffa) is a species of hibiscus known also as 洛神花 (luoshenhua) in Chinese and sorrel in many parts of the English-speaking Caribbean. The roselle fruit is high in vitamin C, has all kinds of health benefits, and its fleshy red calyces are truly beautiful.
Roselle syrup is really easy to make. The most challenging part is removing the seed pods. Basically, you slice the bottom of the flower off and stab the bum of the seed pod until it pops out. Here’s a video.
Since I don’t really like things too sweet and I don’t want my daughter bouncing off the walls, I used a 2:1 water to sugar ratio for my syrup. This means that my syrup is slightly more runny than usual. If you like things proper sweet like a real Ribena, then go for 1:1 water to sugar.
Aside from Ribena, you can do all kinds of things with your rosella syrup. Some ideas from ABC Radio include:
- Rosella spritzer: in a highball glass, add 30ml of syrup, 30ml vodka, gin or white rum, and juice of half a lime. Stir, add ice and top up with soda or tonic
- Rosella bubbly: 2 teaspoons of syrup in a champagne flute, topped up with champagne or sparkling white wine.
- Rosella balsamic reduction/jus: simmer 1 cup of rosella syrup and 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar for 20 minutes until thick, and use as a sauce.
- Boil for about 20 minutes until the calyces have turned a little translucent and pale. Strain the liquid into a separate bowl, and discard the fruits.
- Pour the liquid back into the pot, measuring in cups as you go. Add half a cup of sugar per 1 cup of liquid (or as per taste).
- Stir until sugar is melted, and reduce over low heat until it forms a cordial consistency.
- Cool and store in the fridge in a clean, dry, glass container.
There are no fixed quantities here because it depends how much water you need to cover the rosella fruits. Just follow the water to sugar ratio and you'll be right.