Wellness: Health Benefits of West Indian Sorrel Punch

I look forward to Christmas because that’s the only time of year my mom makes sorrel juice (also known as Jamaican sorrel). It has a refreshing, tangy, citrusy-sweet flavor that is absolutely addictive. The drink is made from the leaves of the roselle plant (Hibiscus sabdariffa), a species of Hibiscus native to West Africa, and has a beautiful crimson color.

Sorrel is actually as nutritious as it is tasty. It’s a power plant containing Vitamin A (for eye health), Vitamin A (to support the immune system), iron (to boost red blood cell production), calcium (for bone health), and potassium (to regulate blood pressure). The full mineral properties of Roselle are documented in USDA National Nutrient Database.
Sorrel also has ant-inflammatory properties that neutralizes the free radicals, and some people believe that it can help ease menstrual cramps if consumed a few days before a woman’s period. A recipe on how I make mine is below (although I don’t measure anything, so can’t provide actual quantities).

1. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil
2. Turn OFF stove and add roselle leaves (this really is to taste. If you prefer a strong flavor add more; you could always dilute it with more water). On average I use about 1 1/2 cups for 5 cups of water. I buy mine at my local Asian/West Indian market.
3. Add sugar (to taste) when the water is still hot.
4. Chop ginger and add (I also like to grate the ginger and squeeze the juice to make it extra spicy)
5. Add 3 cloves (I didn’t want to, but my boyfriend made me do it. He’s Caribbean so I trust he know what’s right)
6. Add 1 cinnamon stick, some grated nutmeg and juice of 1 orange (optional)
7. Mix everything and let sit unbothered overnight. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP. If you try to drink it right away, it won’t taste right.
9. In the morning, strain the drink and discard the leaves and spices.
10. Serve chilled.

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