Hibiscus-Ginger Iced Tea...and Martini.
One day in the grocery store, I strolled past an enormous pile of crispy burgundy objects. They looked like little dried sea anemones...in the produce department?!
I picked one up and smelled it. To my amazement, here in this small-town store, I had found a mountain of dried hibiscus flowers! Well, I grabbed the largest produce bags I could find and started stuffing it with flowers. It occurred to me that there was no price tag anywhere to be found, but I didn't care! I finished my shopping and headed to the register, anxiously waiting to see if I had gotten myself into trouble...
The grocery clerk asked what they were. After telling her, she nonchalantly stated, "Well I don't have a price code for that...how about $1.99 for the bag?" "Sound's great!" (Whue!) I had just paid 2 bucks for no less than 300 dried hibiscus flowers!
Needless to say, after playing with the hibiscus flowers I have found them to be a truly versatile ingredient. Their delicate floral essence--laced with a bright citrusy note--makes them perfect for flavoring beverages, light desserts, and dressings! I often steep them in water for hibiscus tea. But most recently, I have been making hibiscus simple syrup for all sorts of concoctions! This simple syrup works wonders in whipped creme, creme brulee, even delicate baked goods!
I make large quantities of tea for the ladies that attend my cooking class. This seems to be the favorite--with more requests for this recipe than any other beverage I've made them! And the hibiscus simple syrup makes one killer martini!
*If you can't find dried hibiscus flowers, look for hibiscus tea bags!
4 quarts of water
3-4 inch piece of ginger sliced thin (no need to peel)
1 large handful of dried hibiscus flowers (3/4 cup)
3/4-1 cup sugar
Add all to a large pot.
Bring to a boil. Allow to boil for 3-5 minutes.
Cool and strain. Serve over ice!
1 oz. hibiscus-ginger simple syrup
1 oz. vodka or gin
2 oz. (or more) seltzer or club soda
pieces or ginger and rehydrated flowers for garnish
To make the simple syrup: Cut a 2 inch piece of ginger into thin slices (no need to peel). Add 1 1/2 cups of water , 1 1/2 cups of sugar, 1 large handful of dried hibiscus flowers, and the sliced ginger to a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Cover, and remove from heat. Allow the infusion to steep until cooled to room temperature. Strain out the flowers and ginger--reserving some for garnishes. Refrigerate until ready to use.