Flavonoid-Rich Hibiscus Chutney Recipe
Written and Photographed by Juliet Blankespoor
This Hibiscus Chutney is a favorite at my house any time of year, but it makes an especially nice stand-in for cranberry sauce on the holiday table. You can find this recipe and more in the upcoming Chestnut School Herbal Holiday Guide. Enjoy!
Hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa, Malvaceae)
Parts Used: Flowers (technically, calyces)
Brewed as a puckery red tea, hibiscus is enjoyed as a refreshing and medicinal beverage throughout the world. The sour red “fruits” are also enjoyed in jams, chutneys, conserves, and alcoholic fermented beverages. Hibiscus has been widely adopted in tropical regions around the globe as a refreshing medicinal food and beverage. It is quite popular in the Caribbean and Central America as a cold herbal tea mixed with sugar; this drink is called sorrel in the islands and agua de flor de Jamaica in Mexico. It is also widely used in Africa and South America as a beverage tea, medicinal herb, and food. In many parts of the world, roselle “fruits” are sold fresh at market. Roselle has been used medicinally in many traditional cultures for its diuretic, hypotensive, and antimicrobial properties. In Mexico, roselle is highly regarded as a natural liver and kidney tonic and weight-loss herb. With its demulcent and soothing qualities, hibiscus is also used acutely to assuage colds, mouth sores, and sore throat.
Hibiscus is my kind of herb. It is highly medicinal and nutritive and easily prepared in a hundred different ways. Hibiscus is incredibly safe—it is a traditional food, after all. I readily admit to having dreamed up more recipes with hibiscus than with any other herb. Both the immature leaves and calyces are edible. The flavor of the juicy calyx is often likened to rhubarb or cranberry. It can be eaten raw or cooked. Its sour flavor, coupled with its natural pectin content, readily lends itself to jams, pies, sauces, and chutneys. Infused in honey, hibiscus makes a lovely garnet-colored treat with a delectably fruity flavor. To learn about growing hibiscus in your own garden, please visit my article on the subject.
Meet The Green Mastermind Behind Blog Castanea
JULIET BLANKESPOOR founded the Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine in 2007 and serves as the school’s primary instructor and Creative Director. She's been a professional plant-human matchmaker for close to three decades. Juliet caught the plant bug when she was nineteen and went on to earn a degree in Botany. She's owned just about every type of herbal business you can imagine: an herbal nursery, a medicinal products business, a clinical practice, and now, an herbal school.
These days, she channels her botanical obsession with her writing and photography in her online programs and here on her personal blog, Castanea. She's writing her first book: Cultivating Medicinal Herbs: Grow, Harvest, and Prepare Handcrafted Remedies from Your Home Garden. Juliet and her houseplants share a home with her family and herb books in Asheville, North Carolina.