Have you tried using hibiscus flowers in your baking yet? I fell in love with them as an ingredient years ago when I first made these Hibiscus Poppy Seed Shortbread Cookies. Boiled and well-steeped, the petals yield an elixir that is tangy and tart; almost fruity. Its flavor is reminiscent of raspberry and maybe rhubarb with something faintly floral lingering in the background.
Hibiscus syrup is one of the easiest things in the world to make, so it puzzles me why anyone would pay a hefty price for a commercially prepared bottle. Just one bottle can cost more than a pound of organic hibiscus leaves does, which would make ten times the amount of one purchased bottle!
This syrup is especially nice to have as we journey into warmer months because it’s a refreshing addition to beverages, but its virtues are countless!
Here are a few of my favorite uses:
- Pour over ice cream
- Stir into iced tea
- Freeze for icy granita
- Brush over cake layers
- Add to chocolate ganache
- Freeze into ice cubes for drinks
- Add to raspberry coulis and other fruit sauces
- Pour over pancakes
- Add to buttercream frosting
- Drizzle over yogurt
- Pour into carbonated water for Italian soda
- Use for DIY craft cocktails (hello hibiscus mimosas, margaritas, mojitos)
- Give bottles as gifts!
To begin this project you’ll need a cup of dried hibiscus petals. This one pound bag from Frontier is organic and very economical. I’ve used Frontier products previously with my work for Fair Trade, so it’s a brand I trust.
You’ll also need some bottles or canning jars with lids. I purchased these clear bottles with shrink capsules because I plan to give some away to friends and family. One recipe of this syrup will yield six 5 ounce bottles with just a little left over for you to pour into your LaCroix (or other).
The ingredients are simple: dried hibiscus petals, sugar, and water, a squeeze of lemon and 1/4 vanilla bean. Bring it all to a boil on the stove top and let it steep for 30 minutes. Strain once through a sieve, then again through a tea towel or cheesecloth, and then pour into sterilized bottles.
Speaking of, there’s no better way to sterilize than a dip in boiling water. I suggest you keep a large pot of boiling water on the stove top, that way you can dip the bottles one at a time as you work. Fish them out of the hot water with tongs to avoid burns and place the bottles on a towel to dry. The hot water evaporates quickly from the bottles after they are removed from the water, so there’s no extended wait for the bottles to air-dry.
I wasn’t sure the shrink capsules would work for me since I didn’t have a heat gun, but my very old very decrepit hairdryer did the trick on its hottest setting. Just hold the hairdryer nozzle very close the shrink capsule (about 1-inch away). The seal is a lovely finishing touch if you’re a giver of homemade gifts. I really love that the capsules also have gold pull-tabs on the top edge of the lid for easy removal.
Hibiscus is high in Vitamin C, and reportedly has more antioxidants than green tea! Some studies show that it also helps lower blood pressure, so aside from this simple syrup, you may want to steep some petals in boiling water to make a healthful tea. I hope you’ll give it a try!
Homemade Hibiscus Syrup
- six 5 oz. bottles
- 4 cups 960 ml filtered water
- 2 cups 400 g granulated sugar
- 1 cup 2.5 ounces dried hibiscus flowers
- 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/4 vanilla bean
- Combine the water, sugar and hibiscus flowers in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Add the lemon juice. Split and scrape the vanilla seeds from the vanilla bean and add the seeds to the pot. Add the bean pod also; stir until the sugar is melted. Remove from heat.
- Let the mixture steep for 30 minutes. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve; strain again through a cheesecloth or tea towel to remove fine powdered hibiscus debris.
- Transfer the mixture to an 8 cup measure with a pour spout. Fill sterilized jars or bottles and close with tightly fitting lids. Let stand at room temperature until cool, about 1 hour. Transfer bottles to the refrigerator.
- Syrup will keep for up to 3 weeks in the refrigerator.