Giving edible flowers a good name since… Always.
What Is It?
Dried hibiscus flowers are indeed the flowers and spent calyxes of the hibiscus plant – the very same ones you see lining the streets of your favorite tropical vacation spot. Hibiscus are showy plants in any setting: when fresh, the lush, oversized blooms will mesmerize you. Even dried and shriveled in the spice aisle, you can’t miss them. The crimson leaves are such a contrast to the muted browns, yellows and greens that they almost glow. Their flavor is much the same: It’s a shimmering combination of tart cranberry and pomegranate infused with sweet floral blackberry and lemon pucker, all at once, in perfect balance.
What Do I Do With It?
Hibiscus flowers are beautiful, but that beauty belies a workhorse of an ingredient. Many people resign the flowers to tea, but I’d encourage you to do more with it. Expand on its drink potential by making a hibiscus simple syrup, and then use that syrup to make a granita, or spin it savory and add spicy or herbal elements to glaze beef, chicken, pork or salmon. Once you steep it, use the strained hibiscus to make a chutney or relish. Even raw, it’s delicious: crunchy and resilient enough to add a pop of flavor to a snack mix or granola. Deploy them into quick breads or cakes, either as syrup or whole petals, or make a jelly to fill layered cakes or thumbprint cookies.