Hibiscus juice, inspired by the Negros Museum Cafe

Our first afternoon in Negros Occidental found us at the Negros Museum. The suffocating heat left us feeling dehydrated, our parched mouths and throats led us to the Museum Cafe (or did our host suggest that we go there? I can’t remember…) and we were introduced to a bright crimson drink that we never heard of before — hibiscus juice.

Many of us know hibiscus as gumamela, some of us know that hibiscus is the national flower of Malaysia, most know that there are dozens of varieties of hibiscus… but the hibiscus from which the hibiscus juice of the Negros Museum Cafe is made is not the garden gumamela. The drink is made from Hibiscus sabdariffa which is also known as Roselle.

From the September 2013 issue of the BAR (Bureau of Agricultural Research) Chronicle:

Many countries in the world have been cultivating roselle for many purposes such as food, fuel, fiber, lipids, and decoration, among many others. It is popularly used in making cooling beverages and wines, and in making delicious desserts such as jams, jellies, puddings, cakes, pies and others. When dried, it is processed into a nutritious tea. Its tender leaves and stalks can also be eaten as a vegetable in salads, or as seasoning for various delicacies. In the country, it was found to be used as a souring agent in dishes such as sinigang. The stems are seen as potential raw materials for charcoal making and as sources of bast jute-like fibers. Meanwhile, its seeds are rich in linoleic acid, a fatty acid essential for nutrition, and can be potential sources of vegetable oils.

Many of its parts are also believed to be of medicinal value. In Guinea, its leaves are used as a diuretic and sedative, while the Angolans found it as a useful remedy for coughs. Its seeds are used for debility in Myanmar and as diuretic and laxative in Taiwan. In the Philippines, its bitter root is used as aperitif and tonic. Additionally, the flavonoids contained in roselle can be used to naturally color foods such as yoghurt and rums.

Various studies in many parts of the world have also been conducted which are aimed at studying the plant’s biological activities. Results have showed promising outcomes such that roselle can provide protection from atherosclerosis, and are regarded to possess anticarcinogenic and high antioxidant properties.

Hibiscus juice, inspired by the Negros Museum Cafe

Before leaving the Negros Museum Cafe, my friend Lisa and I each bought a pack of dried Hibiscus sabdariffa. A pack, according to the Museum Cafe people, can make as much as five liters of juice.

Hibiscus juice, inspired by the Negros Museum Cafe

I opened the pack when I got home, took about eight pieces to make juice for Speedy and myself, and transferred the rest to an airtight jar.

Hibiscus juice, inspired by the Negros Museum Cafe

Making hibiscus juice is very simple. Just boil, cool, add sugar, stir, add ice and enjoy.

But what does it taste like? Before adding sugar, the water in which the hibiscus has been boiled is slightly tangy. Like most citrus juices, really, except that the tanginess of hibiscus is milder. So, with the addition of sugar (you can even use honey or coco sugar or whatever sweetener you prefer), the tanginess finds balance in the sweetness and the result is an amazingly refreshing drink that is delicious as it is pretty.

Hibiscus juice, inspired by the Negros Museum Cafe
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 8 to 10 pcs. of dried hibiscus
  • sugar, to taste
  • ice
Instructions
  1. Place the dried hibiscus in a pot. Add two cups of water. Bring to the boil. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  2. Turn off the heat. Leave to cool and infuse for about 20 minutes.
  3. Add sugar to taste.
  4. Pour into glasses. Add ice. Serve.

Hibiscus juice, inspired by the Negros Museum Cafe



Comments

  1. Maricel says

    Thanks! This reminded me that I have a pack of hibiscus sitting in my pantry. It would be the perfect drink for this sweltering heat.

  2. Maricel says

    There are plants available at the Centris Sunday market. I bought a plant but unfortunately it died on me. It even managed to bring forth a blossom.

  3. Maricel says

    Along, long time ago, I have read about Roselle in an old Maria Y. Orosa cookbook which is now out of print and there are many recipes there using roselle. I didn’t make a connection between that and the Mexican hibiscus which I thought was our gumamela until I read an article somewhere. The guy I bought the plant from in Centris said the leaves can also be used for sinigang. I was so excited when I found the plant in Centris. I went on a vacation and it was dead by the time I got back, so sad. Haven’t gone back to Centris yet.

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