Hibiscus sabdariffa, known in the Caribbean as sorrel, the source of the tangy flavor in the traditional Jamaican Christmas beverage, has been named one of the top 10 food trends for 2022 by Forbes magazine and Whole Foods. Sorrel’s red bulbs are the calyx of the hibiscus plant and are an excellent source of vitamin C, anthocyanins, and other antioxidants. Other parts of the hibiscus plant, such as its seeds, leaves, fruit, and roots can also be consumed. As the “flavor of 2022,” sorrel can turn up in a variety of foods and beverages.
The tart flavor and notable color of hibiscus teas and juices are relatively familiar to many people. However, in 2022, sorrel will make an appearance in a wider range of choices. Beverage makers plan to create sorrel ciders (Golden State Cider Jamaica), sodas (Whole Foods Market Organic Orange Hibiscus Italian Soda), and flavored waters (Ruby Hibiscus Unsweetened Water). Consumers will also be able to enjoy sorrel’s unique taste in African hibiscus beverages like Nigeria’s zobo and Egypt’s Karkadeh. The well-known Allison Dunn’s Hibiscus Brew in Brooklyn, New York, a Jamaican café inspired by sorrel, makes the beverage from which it takes its name with a combination of sorrel, ginger, and agave. This beverage, along with other healthy sorrel-based smoothies and vegan soft serve sorrel ice cream, is the reason for the café’s fame.
Sorrel can also be enjoyed in savory dishes, as highlighted by Lope Ariyo, a Nigerian chef, in her “Hibiscus” cookbook. In particular, Ariyo’s prize-winning Hibiscus Chicken recipe, which features a hibiscus sauce, has resulted in other sorrel-influenced recipes popular with consumers. Salmon is another food that combines well with homemade garlic and sorrel sauce. The leaves and flowers left over from brewing hibiscus tea can also be used in salads for extra tang.
When it comes to dessert and sweet dishes, restaurants have become even more creative. FieldTrip restaurant in Harlem, New York, features a rice milk soft serve hibiscus ice cream, while Matthew Kenney’s “Adesse,” a vegan restaurant at Selfridges in London offers Hibiscus Cheesecake. The New York Times has featured a recipe for hibiscus spiraled ginger cookies made with dried hibiscus that has been finely ground. Mexican-style ice pops and YoBucha Strawberry Hibiscus Kombucha yogurt are other sorrel-focused treats that can be enjoyed by diners at home.
Hibiscus is often used in jams and jellies, marmalades, sauces, and pickles as well. It can be made into a chutney with the addition of peppers and apple cider vinegar that provides an excellent accompaniment to a plate of cheeses, or it can be used as an alternative to traditional cranberry sauce. In Senegal, sorrel is combined with mango, ginger, moringa, blueberries, and other flavors to create unique fruit spreads.
Sorrel is also taking advantage of a growing demand for nutraceuticals and foods that provide health benefits. Some hibiscus-based nutraceuticals can make improvements in the health of skin, nails, and hair, while hibiscus fruits and extracts are often used to treat toothache, urinary tract infections, colds, hangovers, heart diseases, pain in the upper respiratory tract, fluid retention, and for dissolving phlegm. They are also used as a diuretic and to treat high blood pressure.
Info and Photo – Forbes, Deposit Photo