My younger brother Ahmad Ali just loves eating roselle calyces. We all love roselle but Ahmad Ali loves them a lot more than all of us do. My dad’s cousin (Uncle Najib) has a few roselle plants in front of his house and everytime we visited him, my brother would pluck one and eat. He kept the pods and plant them when he reached home. He now has 3 healthy roselle plants full of fruits. My brother wrote about roselle and I have to admit that he did a pretty good job. With a sudden interest in roselle, I decided to do some research on the internet and I found that roselle (scientific name: Hibiscus Sabdariffa) is popular all over the world and is very healthy too!
Many parts of the roselle plant can be eaten but the red calyces (the red fleshy part of the fruit) are the most popular. They can be used fresh to make juice, jam, jelly, syrup, gelatin, pudding, cakes, ice cream and flavouring. They can also be dried and brewed into tea, spice and used for butter, pies, sauces, tarts and other desserts. It also processes pectin that makes a firm jelly. It contains antioxidants including flavonoids, gossypetine, hibiscetine and sabdaretine. They are also rich in riboflavin, ascorbic acid, niacin carotene, calcium and iron. The young leaves and stem could be eaten raw in salad or cooked. Sometimes they are added to curries as seasoning. It is said to have an acid, rhubarb-like flavour. The seeds can be roasted and ground and used in soups and sauces. The roasted seed could also substitute coffee beans. The young root is edible but very fibrous.
Roselles are also used in medicine since a long time ago. They contain ascorbic acid and glycolic acid which are able to increase urination. The juice from boiled, ripe roselles (sometimes with salt, pepper, asafetida and molasses added) is taken as a remedy to treat billous attack. Also used as a cooling herb providing relief during hot weather. The citric acid helps to increase the flow of blood to the skin’s surface and dilating the pores to cool the skin. In East Africa, the calyces infusion is used to relieve coughs (known as ‘Sudan Tea’). Roselle tea is believed to be able to reduce cholesterol too.
The leaves and flowers are used as a tonic tea for kidney and digestive functions. The leaves are heated and applied to cracks in the feet and on boils and ulcers to speed maturation. A lotion made from the leaves is used on sores and wounds. The calyces and seeds are diuretic, laxative and tonic. The brownish-yellow seed oil is claimed to heal sores on camels. Roselles are benefecial for animals too 🙂
We have succeeded to persuade mum to make us roselle juice and they are really tasty. Ali commented that it tastes something like the ‘Ribena’ blackcurrent drink. I hope mum will make us roselle jam next.Related posts/articles:
How to make roselle juice? Click here for the recipe (pictures included). Roselle from a kid’s point of view. Click here. ‘Roselle picking’. Click here to read. Click here to read about a roselle plant called Rosie.