Oh sweet, tart roselle
When Stacey Roussel of All We Need Farms spotted the bag of crimson red buds I was carrying, she exclaimed, “Roselle! They grow so easily here,” and we started talking about what to do with a harvest of roselle.
Roselle is an edible species of hibiscus, and its calyces are used in all kinds of preparations, most commonly in making tea, syrup, jam and herbal drinks. I was going to make roselle syrup. Stacey, who joined the vendors at Urban Harvest’s Eastside market this summer, selling her goat’s milk gelato pops, gave me another idea to try when she said, “I make risotto with them!”
Carefully cut around the base of the calyx, and wiggle the seedpod to remove it. When you buy them from a farmer they may have already done this, to save the seedpod for further cultivation or sell to other growers.
Raw roselle is tart and refreshing, similar to sorrel or rhubarb. The plant leaves are edible, too, and make for a tasty stir-fry.