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Adding Local Flavor: Hibiscus

Posted by tracebusta on 8/20/2015 at 01:12:25 PM

The previous owner of our house was apparently very big into gardening. It's been a lot of fun watching the backyard change over the summer and finding out what's all back there. Three of the largest bushes back there are Rose of Sharon, which is a type of hibiscus. I've been doing some reading on them, and it turns out that they are very edible, both the leaves and the flowers. The leaves are really tough and chewy and have that green, vegetal taste. I probably won't be doing much with those. The flowers, though, are pretty good. They have a very mild floral flavor with a bit of sweetness. Most of the recipes I've seen online are for teas or salads, so I figure that a tea would be a great first start. Right now I'm in the process of drying out some of the flowers, we'll see what happens.

The two biggest bushes
The two main bushes here are about 12 feet tall.

Bonus bee shot!
Laid out in a pile on my table
I went out and picked/cut about 10 flowers. (these are the "chiffon" variety of the Rose of Sharon)

Plucked petals
I pulled the petals out and put them onto a (cleaned) spare window screen.

Second screen'd
Put another spare screen on top of that to prevent any breezes making me lose the petals. I only had about 4-5 hours of sunlight that first day, and it wasn't enough time to dry them out.

Almost dried flowers
This is about 4 more hours today. They're getting fairly dry, but they're not where I want them yet. The color has gotten a lot darker as well. 

I won't really know their flavor until I make this first batch of tea and see what I get with them. My plan (hope) is to eventually make a beer with them. My initial thoughts are to make a lightly hopped cream ale or blond. Since the flavor will most likely be a bit subdued, I want to make something that won't fight that flavor and let the hibiscus shine. I do have a little experience with hibiscus. A couple years ago I made a hibiscus mead for my wedding, which turned out pretty good. The hibiscus I used for that was purchased, though, so I'm really looking forward to making this batch of beer. 

Tags for this post: local, backyard, hibiscus, dry, drying

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Good article, I used dried Hibiscus flowers in a Saison just recently, turned out fantastic, not just on the color but it give a nice flavor to it!

posted by peterschroder on 8/20/2015 at 06:24:32 PM

That sounds pretty great. Do you remember how much you used? How did you use it?

I'm thinking a little bit of petals in a whirlpool addition, then do a 'dry hopping' charge with some more petals for a couple days.

posted by tracebusta on 8/20/2015 at 07:16:09 PM