Friday, September 5, 2008


What is rosella? It is a tall, bushy shrub with flowers and fruit used to give colour and flavour to jams, fruit punches, sauces and desserts.

Wild rosella flowers are actually modified leaves or calyces for the botanists.

Rosella grows on the fringes of rainforest or tall forest and is often found behind sand dunes. There are several native Hibiscus closely related to the rosella which are nearly as tasty.

The rosella flowers are actually the calyx or centre of the flower and contain a woody seedpod which has to be removed by hand and then cleaned.

Rosella is versatile, used in tea, desserts, soups, chutneys or eaten fresh. It is a good source of Vitamin C and is used in many herbal remedies throughout the world. Originally it is thought to come from Sri Lanka but can now be found growing on every continent, proof of its wonderful flavour and appeal to people worldwide.

Although it is the same species there are many differences between the countries where it grows. The Australian variety is quite different from the New Guinea and Indonesian variety which are different from the Chinese variety even though they are all classified as Hibiscus sabdariffa.

Studies have shown that wild rosella flowers are super fruits when it comes to the antioxidants they contain. The levels eclipse the usual antioxidant fruits like blueberries, cherries and cranberries. Not only are rosella delicious, they are good for you too.

Rosella is also known as “Hibiscus sabdariffa”, “roselle”, “Jamaica sorrel” and “karkadé”. The use of herbal remedies, including the herb rosella are popular as an alternative to standard Western medicine for a variety of problems, including proper kidney functioning, clearing up mucus and opening a blocked nose.

Rosella is an effective remedy for various ailments and this natural holistic approach to health is becoming more and more popular but should not replace conventional medicine or prescription drugs.

Rosella has certain therapeutic properties. Using it internally in the form of herbal tea (infusion) has been reported to have the following benefits:-

(a) soothes colds

(b) opens blocked nose

(c) clears up mucous

(d) astringent

(e) promotes proper kidney function

(f) helps digestion

(g) general tonic

(h) diuretic

(i) helps reduce fever

The outer leaves of the Hibiscus flower (calyxes) are used for making the brew.

The standard way to make an infusion, unless otherwise specified, is to pour a cup of boiling water over the material to be infused, let it stand for 5 minutes, strain it and drink it.

(a) When the recipe refers to fresh plant material to be used, a 1/4 cup fresh material is used, following the method above.

(b) When the recipe refers to using dried material, use 2 teaspoons of material when making it.

(c) Should the recipe call for bark or seeds to be used, use 2 teaspoons of seeds or 1 tablespoon of bark.

(d) We can sweeten our health drink with honey and a dash of fresh lemon juice may also enhance the taste.

The herbal material should only be used if we are absolutely sure that it really the herb in question.


(a) If you are ill or have any health concerns, consult your health practitioner.

(b) Do not continuously drink the same infusion. At maximum use for 10 days and then skip 5 days.

(c) Only have one cup of herbal infusion per day, except during acute periods - such as when you have a cold or flu, you can then have it three times a day, but for a maximum of 4 days.

(d) When you use herbal remedies, be aware that they can be extremely powerful, and should you have any side effects when taking these infusions, immediately stop using the herb and consult your health practitioner right away.

Rosella confit are sugar-cured wild rosella flowers. The acid flowers in this fruit confit are sugar-cured using sequential additions of different sugars resulting in a rich crimson syrup, the firm texture of the flowers and the perfect balance of acid crispness and sweetness.

The rosella confit syrup can be used by the dash into dessert sauces or to brighten up a plum, raspberry, strawberry or cherry sauce.

A spoonful of the rosella confit flowers can be scooped with some syrup onto yoghurt or ice cream or just garnish a dessert plate.

Wild rosella fruit confit can be coarsely chopped as a garnish for meats, poultry (apparently better than cranberry sauce with turkey) or a simple salad.

The rosella fruit confit is also great with cheese.

As something different, try dropping some of the fruit along with a dash of the syrup into a sparkling white wine or champagne.

And how about a wild rosella vodkatini? They make great mixer cocktails or even non-alcoholic mocktails.

Rosella jam can be used on fresh bread or toast and anywhere you would like to add some tasty raspberry or rhubarb highlights.

Rosella can be used in chutneys and sauces for something different to the usual, mixed with some barbeque sauce or salsa and serve as a spicy chutney.


250g chicken fillet
2 tsp pepper
olive oil
1 cup rice

1 cup chicken stock
salt and pepper
1 tsp rosella jam
1 cup red wine
2 rosella flowers in syrup

Method (chicken)
1. Preheat oven to 180C. Coat chicken in pepper.
2. Heat a frying pan, brush with a little olive oil and sear the chicken fillet for a couple of minutes on each side and then bake for 10 minutes.
3. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil, add the rice and cook.
4. Drain and set aside.

Method (sauce)
1. Heat the stock in a saucepan, season with salt and pepper, add rosella jam and simmer for a couple of minutes.
2. Add red wine, rosella flowers (including syrup), stir and simmer for a further minute to reduce slightly.

To serve, arrange the chicken on a bed of rice, drizzle with the sauce and garnish with a rosella flower.

(1) Ageless - the herbal anti-aging site
(2) Vic Cherikoff website
(3) Bush Tucker shop website
(4) recipe adapted from Rhiannons Recipes

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