Just as black cake is part of the quintessential Saint Lucian Christmas, so too is sorrel. This is not to be confused with the vegetable of the same name found in more temperate climates.
The sorrel to which I refer, is known by the botanical name Hibiscus sabdariffa. It is believed to have originated from West Africa. Sorrel is a plant that germinates from seed and flowers and fruits in one year, then dies off. It grows to a height of about six feet or more.
In Saint Lucia, and in some other Caribbean countries, sorrel is made into a drink especially during the December holidays.
How to make sorrel
Follow the steps below to enjoy a refreshing glass of sorrel:
- First, start by picking the thick red sepals of the plant then dry them. Traditionally, this was done by putting the leaves out in the sun on the hot tin roof or laying it out on the ground in some kind of container.
- Hot water is then poured over the sepals and this is left to steep for a few hours or overnight or sometimes days. Add some cinnamon sticks and cloves in as well.
- Taste for potency; add water if the taste is too intense, or keep the solution steeping for longer until you have achieved your desired potency.
- When the solution is just right, strain and add sugar to taste.
For a more adult version, simply add RUM!
(Note that sorrel will stain, so unless you want your plastic containers stained red, use a glass bowl or jar.)